Rats in the ANC threaten to dis­rupt democ­racy. It is up to South African civil so­ci­ety and in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens to stop the rot, writes Frank Chikane

CityPress - - Voices -

The alarm­ing and mount­ing ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal­ity within the state and state-owned en­ter­prises (SOEs) is fast erod­ing the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple and their trust in the gov­ern­ment. Large sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion are be­com­ing rest­less and the re­cent medium-term bud­get pol­icy state­ment, de­liv­ered by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba, shows that our econ­omy is in the dol­drums.

Even the die-hards in the gov­ern­ing ANC who sup­ported el­e­ments of this crim­i­nal­ity now ac­knowl­edge its hugely neg­a­tive ef­fects on the party’s rep­u­ta­tion and its fu­ture prospects, es­pe­cially with re­gard to the 2019 na­tional elec­tions.

The ex­po­sure of public sec­tor crim­i­nal­ity was im­por­tant for South Africans to wake up, take a stand and stop the rot.

And the ex­po­sure of this rot is now be­gin­ning to send shiv­ers down the spines of some of our “com­rade lead­ers” – who should re­ally be called “com­rade tsot­sis” – and their Tro­jan horses.

They can feel the noose slowly tight­en­ing around them. They re­alise that the game could be over sooner rather than later, bring­ing with it the prospect of fac­ing long prison terms for abus­ing their po­si­tions in pur­suit of self-in­ter­est and the in­ter­ests of some se­lected fam­i­lies, all at the ex­pense of the peo­ple.

Their stran­gle­hold on the ANC is, af­ter all, no longer as ab­so­lute as be­fore. Most wor­ri­some is the fact that even a cur­sory glance at the star­tling rev­e­la­tions about state cap­ture sug­gests that some of the mis­deeds bor­der on trea­son in terms of the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law.

Those en­trusted with the af­fairs of the na­tion can­not abuse their po­si­tions of priv­i­lege to loot state re­sources and serve their own in­ter­ests. And it is trea­sonous to go even fur­ther and cap­ture state se­cu­rity or­gans to serve in­ter­ests other than those pre­scribed in the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law.

It is most egre­gious for these or­gans of state to be used by such traitors to laun­der money – in­clud­ing mov­ing it to the for­eign bank ac­counts of in­di­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies – not only to en­rich them­selves, but also to amass this stolen loot as part of a “war chest” to cor­rupt and com­pro­mise the demo­cratic sys­tem and fur­ther en­trench cor­rup­tion.

This amounts to a coup d’état against the peo­ple of South Africa, es­pe­cially the poor and the his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged.

As we have ob­served be­fore, the elected lead­er­ship of the ANC has been un­able to stop this dan­ger­ous slide into the abyss.

The ANC it­self was the first to be cap­tured – the party’s 2012 na­tional con­fer­ence in Man­gaung in the Free State sig­ni­fied the con­clu­sion of its cap­ture. The na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) elected at that con­fer­ence was, by de­sign, loaded with a fac­tion bent on pur­su­ing state cap­ture at all costs. Many oth­ers were pli­ant – and pli­able ac­com­plices mount no re­sis­tance.

No de­ci­sion could be made by the NEC to check­mate this dis­as­trous tra­jec­tory. This ren­dered the body in­ef­fec­tive and un­able to deal with the cul­prits in its midst.

Con­cerns about the con­duct of the pres­i­dent were dis­missed out­right, not­with­stand­ing the dam­age done to the party, the gov­ern­ment and the coun­try. Protest­ing voices within the ANC’s elected lead­er­ship were drowned by the dis­ci­ples of this project and those com­pro­mised or con­strained by the pol­i­tics of the stom­ach.

While the ANC was go­ing through its in­ter­nal bat­tles, the dam­age to its cred­i­bil­ity and in­tegrity was ac­cel­er­at­ing by the day and is now so deep, it is af­fect­ing the coun­try and the gov­ern­ment neg­a­tively.

A South African diplo­mat once told me that one needed only seven years to cause enor­mous dam­age to the coun­try. This, be­cause the pres­i­dent is the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity of al­most the en­tire gov­ern­ment. A pres­i­dent who is dis­in­clined to aid and abet na­tional in­ter­ests can se­verely weaken the state ma­chin­ery in a short time, as has hap­pened here over the past eight years.

It is in this con­text that de­vel­op­ments in SOEs and other crit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions such as the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) should be un­der­stood.

Sars is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern as it plays a crit­i­cal role in ad­di­tion to the one of col­lect­ing rev­enue. Given its ca­pac­ity to mon­i­tor in­come, tax dodg­ing and eva­sion, as well as money laun­der­ing and the il­le­gal ex­port of cap­i­tal, Sars is in­stru­men­tal in fight­ing crime.

We are in the for­tu­nate po­si­tion that the ju­di­ciary is still func­tion­ing within its con­sti­tu­tional man­date. Other­wise, we would now be a mafia state, with crim­i­nal gangs run­ning the coun­try and de­ter­min­ing who would be ar­rested and who went to jail.

It is ap­par­ent that most of the jus­tice clus­ters within gov­ern­ment have been cap­tured and paral­ysed, to the ex­tent that they only pur­sue those who are op­posed to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

It is for this rea­son that the masses should do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to de­fend the ju­di­ciary, the last bas­tion of our democ­racy.

With the fail­ure of the lead­er­ship to pull back the ANC from the precipice, mem­bers of the ANC – through their branch rep­re­sen­ta­tives – are the only ones who can stop state cap­ture at the De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Two weeks ago, we warned that this is their last chance to save the ANC, and along with it, the gov­ern­ment and the coun­try. Fail­ure to do so will sig­nal the be­gin­ning of the end of the ANC as we have known it for decades. Some would say that this will be the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin of the ANC.

For­tu­nately, po­lit­i­cally con­scious cit­i­zens, who are still vig­i­lant, have done what the ANC could not do and raised the nec­es­sary alarm against this most dan­ger­ous project. In do­ing so, they have stopped the state cap­ture project from cap­tur­ing the en­tire coun­try, in­clud­ing its cit­i­zens.

Civil so­ci­ety bod­ies – in­clud­ing those that par­tic­i­pated in the Con­fer­ence for the Fu­ture of SA, held on July 18, the birth­day of for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela – as well as re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties, aca­demics and some lead­ers of the ANC, have mounted a mas­sive re­sis­tance ef­fort against this project and ex­posed it for what it is.

Those work­ing within the ANC have cor­rectly char­ac­terised the rhetoric of “rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion”, spewed by peo­ple driv­ing the state cap­ture project, as noth­ing but a cover for the loot­ing of state re­sources.

The pro­gres­sive forces men­tioned above have made it clear that they sup­port a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy to achieve the ob­jec­tives of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion, but are against any­one who steals from the poor in the name of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

The pro­pa­ganda strat­a­gems, hatched by UK public re­la­tions firm Bell Pot­tinger, were in­tended to hood­wink our peo­ple. But these back­fired and brought down the com­pany. The de­vi­ous plans also ex­posed the racism that was im­plicit in at­tempts to make state cap­ture look as if it was good for blacks when, in fact, it amounted to a re­ver­sal of the painstak­ing gains the coun­try had reg­is­tered since 1994.

The ANC lead­ers have failed to con­cre­tise the process of its avowed “self-cor­rec­tion” and cre­ate space for the lead­er­ship to crit­i­cally look at its fail­ures of the last few years. In­stead, the vet­er­ans and stal­warts of the ANC – to­gether with the al­liance part­ners and other pro­gres­sive forces – have be­come the public rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the val­ues of the ANC of old, val­ues which have been sup­pressed within the move­ment’s of­fi­cial struc­tures.

The na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence, aimed at ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges faced by the ANC, has been planned by the group of vet­er­ans and stal­warts. It will take place from Novem­ber 17 to 19.

It forms part of their ef­forts to re­turn the ANC to its for­mer glory of be­ing a gen­uine rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple, not of a few in­di­vid­u­als in pur­suit of their own in­ter­ests.

As we have said ear­lier, the em­pire of state cap­ture has started to fall apart be­cause of the re­sis­tance of the peo­ple of South Africa. The fo­cus on the af­fected SOEs, such as Eskom and Transnet, as well as on state en­ti­ties such as Na­tional Trea­sury, the Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of SA, Sars and SAA has left no room for those who want to con­tinue loot­ing the re­sources of the coun­try.

Con­sult­ing com­pa­nies such as KPMG, SAP and McKin­sey have been forced to ac­count for the role they have played in the state cap­ture project.

The key play­ers in the SOEs – in­clud­ing se­nior staff, board mem­bers and their po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­pals – are un­der enor­mous pres­sure.

This is putting the driv­ers of this project in a cor­ner they never ex­pected. Their ef­forts at keep­ing out of the clutches of the law are also fall­ing apart, leav­ing them ex­posed and at risk of be­ing ar­rested and charged.

This is where the risk for the coun­try comes in. As the crim­i­nals be­come des­per­ate, they are likely to re­sort to des­per­ate mea­sures to de­fend them­selves against this risk. Like a cor­nered tiger, they are likely to cause dam­age to their own com­rades, the ANC, gov­ern­ment and the coun­try.

For­mer UK prime min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill once said: “Even a cor­nered rat is dan­ger­ous.”

A cor­nered per­son in­stinc­tively does one of three things: flee, fight or freeze. If those in­volved in cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties feel threat­ened, they will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to pro­tect them­selves.

The first way of do­ing so is to do what­ever it takes to stay in power, even if it means im­pos­ing them­selves on the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple and rul­ing them against their will. But this may not be easy in South Africa as the peo­ple will re­sist.

In ad­di­tion, many mem­bers of the se­cu­rity ser­vices, in­clud­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, are pro­fes­sion­als who re­spect the Con­sti­tu­tion. No one can or­der or in­struct them to act in a man­ner that vi­o­lates the Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws of the coun­try. Sec­tion 199 (6) em­pow­ers them not to “obey a man­i­festly il­le­gal or­der”.

An­other way in which the crim­i­nal el­e­ments may con­tinue to con­trol the levers of power is by

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