The masses will stop capture
At the beginning of November last year, then public protector Thuli Madonsela gave us a parting gift. It was a report titled State of Capture, an uncomfortable tome that revealed just how deep the Guptas’ dirty nails had dug into the nation’s skin. After beating off an interdict threat from the president – who is supposed to champion efforts to create clean government – Madonsela eventually released her report on November 2. What it contained was worse than we had feared. South Africa was indeed in the grip of a deadly disease called Guptaritis, which eats away at the cells of a society faster than any virus known to mankind.
The extent of the capture should have prompted President Jacob Zuma to declare some kind of state of emergency and pull out all stops to stop the rot. A president who consistently warns about the West wanting to usurp the ANC government’s power should have jumped when alerted to the fact that there were domestic forces that were far advanced in doing so.
What’s more, Madonsela gave him very direct pointers about how he should go about rescuing the country. In the remedial action section of her report, Madonsela directed Zuma to “appoint, within 30 days, a commission of inquiry headed by a judge solely selected by the Chief Justice who shall provide one name to the president”.
She said this commission should complete its work and hand its findings and recommendations to the head of state with 180 days. The president would then submit a copy to Parliament, indicating his next steps.
Parliament was given 180 days to review the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, which governs the behaviour of members of Cabinet, to ensure it provided them and those in authority with “better guidance regarding integrity, including avoidance and management of conflict of interest”.
She made recommendations about what law enforcement agencies should do.
It is now almost a year since Madonsela hit us in the face with the 365 page report and gave us a way to get our country back.
Those tasked with protecting South Africa’s wellbeing, the integrity of the state and the safety of the fiscus have done absolutely nothing about it.
Like a newly aware child concealing his nakedness with his tiny hands, Zuma has hidden behind a technicality to avoid doing anything. The ANC in Parliament has refused to act on the Executive Members Ethics’ Act because its MPs don’t want to be bothered about “ethics whatwhat”. Other ANC leaders have continued lobbing grenades and spitballs at Madonsela. Law enforcement agencies have dithered and dallied.
In the meantime, more revelations have come to the fore which have shown that Madonsela only scratched the surface. The #GuptaLeaks emails not only confirmed the capture narrative but amplified it a million times. The lack of shame and dignity displayed by our captured leaders was sickening.
In the meantime, skeletons tumbling out of the cupboards of Eskom and other state-owned entities have laid bare the sophisticated networks that were designed to siphon money out of the public sector and, possibly, out of the country. And just last week whistle-blower Bianca Goodson gave an in-depth insight into Gupta associate company Trillian’s elaborate siphoning scheme. She revealed how the plunder-fest was neatly aligned with the term of the current administration, which ends in 2019.
In the meantime, reports by the SA Council of Churches and another by a panel of top academics and researchers have further highlighted how the country was and is being stolen. Still nothing has happened.
When South Africa marks the first anniversary of the State of Capture report, all we will be able to say is that at least the country’s citizens were sufficiently outraged to ignite a new era of activism. Whether the president and those around him act or not is hardly relevant. The people and uncaptured institutions are acting. They are acting because they remember that on November 2, Madonsela told us that the president had acted “improperly and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code” by allowing the Guptas and his son Duduzane to be involved in the appointment of a finance minister in December 2015.
The citizens know that the president cannot act because Mandosela found that he and some of his ministers “improperly” intervened on behalf of the Guptas in the family’s relationships with the banks. And that he acted “improperly and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code” by using his position and information available to him to favour the entities of the Guptas and his son when it came to handing out government business.
The people of South Africa know that Zuma’s hands were so tied he could not act on former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas’ public declaration that the Guptas had offered him a Cabinet post.
So, on November 2, their faith in government doing anything about state capture will be nil. So they will continue to fight the fight themselves.