To my mind
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.