To my mind

Finweek English Edition - - Front Page - COLLEEN NAUDÉ colleenn@fin­week.co.za

NAMIBIA IS a won­der­ful place with won­der­ful peo­ple. Even in the po­lit­i­cally charged at­mos­phere in the run-up to its in­de­pen­dence you were aware of an at­ti­tude of live and let live. It gave one hope for what was in store for this African coun­try. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Sam Nu­joma, the cav­al­cade of sev­eral black cars, each ac­com­pa­nied by about eight black mo­tor­cy­cles, with an equal num­ber pre­ced­ing and fol­low­ing, forc­ing one and all off the roads, con­firmed the aw­ful re­al­ity that Namibia’s new rulers had in cer­tain re­spects not risen above some of the worst African tra­di­tions.

A re­cent close shave here at home with a sim­i­lar cav­al­cade in peak hour traf­fic in Sand­ton showed that South Africa’s new lead­ers have also been sucked into the trap of a cheap and nasty show of power.

Much worse than the delu­sions of grandeur demon­strated by such be­hav­iour is that it’s a symp­tom of Gov­ern­ment lead­ers who be­lieve they’re above the rules of the road. That at­ti­tude adds fuel to the scep­ti­cism about things such as the re­cently held na­tional anti-cor­rup­tion con­fer­ence.

It’s not nec­es­sary to ar­range a con­fer­ence to come to the re­al­i­sa­tion that to scorn rules and reg­u­la­tions is the root cause of all forms of cor­rup­tion. There can’t be any ex­cep­tion to the rules – es­pe­cially not for peo­ple in po­si­tions of power.

Against that back­ground South Africans can’t be blamed if they have lit­tle hope that the two days of talk­ing will make any dif­fer­ence to the ap­prox­i­mately 5 000 al­leged cases of cor­rup­tion at lo­cal and na­tional gov­ern­ment level.

Ac­cord­ing to Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion chair­man Pro­fes­sor Stan Sang­weni, the coun­try has had no suc­cess in re­duc­ing the tsunami of cor­rup­tion that’s swamped SA since the first anti-cor­rup­tion con­fer­ence was held in 1999. Why should it be any dif­fer­ent this time?

That Thabo Mbeki, the des­ig­nated main speaker, didn’t pitch at the con­fer­ence does lit­tle to in­spire con­fi­dence. Af­ter the latest claims about his al­leged in­volve­ment in the arms scan­dal, you prob­a­bly can’t blame him for not want­ing to show his face, even though Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Ser­vice & Ad­min­is­tra­tion Geral­dine Fraser-Moleketi strongly de­nied that had any­thing to do with Mbeki’s ab­sence.

In the midst of al­le­ga­tions that Mbeki gave part of an al­leged kick­back that he’d re­ceived for clinch­ing the arms deal to the ANC, con­cerns are again raised about do­na­tions to po­lit­i­cal par­ties. As far back as 2004, Fin­week said com­pa­nies’ do­na­tions to po­lit­i­cal par­ties should be dis­closed. Pro­pos­als made by ANC party deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe two years ago that do­na­tions should be reg­u­lated have not been fol­lowed through.

Mean­while, Ja­cob Zuma’s sup­port­ers aren’t only threat­en­ing they’ll re­ject the de­ci­sion if he’s found guilty of cor­rup­tion, threats of mur­der are be­ing bandied about. In such a cli­mate fu­elled by Zuma’s ma­chine­gun theme song, the African tra­di­tion of lead­ers who put them­selves above the law will con­tinue to flour­ish.

It’s def­i­nitely not the cli­mate for a State with­out cor­rup­tion – and no amount of talk­ing at any con­fer­ence will make the slight­est dif­fer­ence.

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