The masses will stop cap­ture

CityPress - - Voices - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­press.co.za

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.

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