One way to end night­mare

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - RAY MCCAULEY

Pas­tor Ray McCauley is the pres­i­dent of Rhema Family Churches and co-chair­man of the Na­tional Re­li­gious Lead­ers Coun­cil

MANY weeks ago, through this col­umn, one raised two is­sues on two dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions which have since be­come a night­mare for our rel­a­tively young demo­cratic state. The first one is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and the Gupta family and the sec­ond is the need for a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry aris­ing out of al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture.

On the first one, the point was made that the pres­i­dent had a right to choose his friends. But when his friend­ships be­gin to in­ter­fere with mat­ters of our re­pub­lic we, as cit­i­zens, have a right to ob­ject.

This opin­ion was trig­gered by the much-pub­li­cised land­ing of the Gupta’s char­tered plane at the Air Force Base Waterk­loof. The land­ing sparked widespread crit­i­cism and jus­ti­fi­ably so. The name of Pres­i­dent Zuma, re­ferred to as Num­ber One, was al­legedly bandied about in se­cur­ing the Gup­tas’ land­ing rights at what is oth­er­wise a na­tional key point out which is out of bounds for pri­vate and com­mer­cial flights.

Then, South Africans from all walks of life were out­raged. Their apol­ogy notwith­stand­ing, I warned the Gup­tas not to abuse the hos­pi­tal­ity of South Africans, and to ap­pre­ci­ate the depth of the anger and hurt their ac­tion had caused. I doubt they un­der­stood the mes­sage.

The lat­est al­le­ga­tions, con­tained in what is known as the #Gup­taLeaks, ex­poses how de­ter­mined they were to use not just one of our air force bases as their play­ground, but our en­tire re­pub­lic.

Their al­leged deeds, which they have so far not de­nied but have in­stead raised ques­tions about how the e-mails were ac­cessed, re­veal the shock­ing ex­tent of how they sought to be lords over our coun­try. The im­pli­cated politi­cians might not be em­bar­rassed and ashamed by the con­tents of the e-mails but or­di­nary cit­i­zens love South Africa too much to be left un­both­ered by the al­le­ga­tions. We are a proud na­tion and at­tempts to un­der­mine our sovereignty, cap­ture the levers of po­lit­i­cal power and use our eco­nomic re­sources to ad­vance the in­ter­ests of one family are the height of dis­re­spect for our na­tion.

Even the ANC, which had adopted a head-in-the-sand ap­proach on its pres­i­dent’s scan­dals, has pro­nounced on this one. Speak­ing to the me­dia last week, its spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said the ANC had “grave con­cern” over the “very wor­ry­ing claims about the na­ture of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween gov­ern­ment and pri­vate in­ter­ests” as al­leged in the e-mails. It called for a probe to de­ter­mine the truth. We should be en­cour­aged by the rul­ing party’s courage and re­dis­cov­ery of its moral com­pass, but one won­ders if it is not too lit­tle too late.

Which leads us to the ANC’s about-turn on the com­mis­sion of in­quiry into state cap­ture. The mem­ory is fresh in our minds of how the ANC tried to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture by ask­ing peo­ple to bring their con­cerns and al­le­ga­tions to its sec­re­tary-gen­eral. Some of us saw that for what it was – an at­tempt to con­tain the fall­out caused by the al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture. We warned then that it was a fu­tile ex­er­cise and lacked cred­i­bil­ity.

I joined a num­ber of re­li­gious lead­ers and the SACP in call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry.

In June last year Man­tashe closed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing it would be fruit­less to con­tinue with it as he had re­ceived only one writ­ten sub­mis­sion. The party’s Zizi Kodwa told the Gupta-owned tele­vi­sion chan­nel that it was a closed chap­ter.

And so the Gup­tas con­tin­ued with their ped­dling of po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

But how wrong Man­tashe and Kodwa were. The mat­ter is not a closed chap­ter. No less than the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee say­ing there should, with­out de­lay, be a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture. It is a moot point about how broad the com­mis­sion’s terms of ref­er­ence should be, but what should not be lost is how one family (the Gup­tas) al­legedly tried to in­flu­ence the head of state (Zuma).

And so, let the com­mis­sion of in­quiry come so that the na­tion can end this night­mare and move for­ward.

But as we wait for it, one can­not but re­flect on the mas­sive rup­tures that this saga has caused within the ANC and its al­liance part­ners, let alone the ca­reers it has de­stroyed and is yet to de­stroy.

The ANC is a leader of so­ci­ety and its al­liance with Cosatu and the SACP of­fers hope to many. The ANC is hurt­ing and the state of the al­liance is trou­bling. The tragedy is that this is not be­cause of pol­icy dif­fer­ences and/or the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the coun­try. Rather, it is be­cause of how one family has seem­ingly man­aged to di­vide the ANC and the lat­ter from its al­lies. It is tragic.

CARTE BLANCHE: The Gupta’s jet. Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s name was al­legedly bandied about in se­cur­ing the Gup­tas land­ing rights at Air Force Base Waterk­loof in Tsh­wane, a na­tional key point.

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