A time for real lead­er­ship

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THIS week’s del­uge of email reve­la­tions shows no signs of abat­ing. On the con­trary, it would ap­pear the shaky bar­rier that largely con­tained the sea of con­jec­ture and spec­u­la­tion about state cap­ture, par­tic­u­larly by a sin­gle fam­ily over the of­fice of the pres­i­dent, has fi­nally – ir­re­vo­ca­bly – been breached. There are sug­ges­tions a trove of tens of thou- sands more emails awaits dis­cov­ery and anal­y­sis. It is an un­prece­dented state of af­fairs in cor­rup- tion-weary South Africa, po­ten­tially dwarf­ing the In­fo­gate scan­dal of the apartheid era. Yet there has been lit­tle re­sponse, of­fi­cial or un- of­fi­cial, in the face of a moun­tain of highly sug- ges­tive cor­re­spon­dence, spiced with some bizarre in­ter­ludes. This is a dan­ger­ous and ul­ti­mately fool­hardy tac­tic. Metaphor­i­cally stick­ing one’s head in the sand un­til dan­ger passes will not suf­fice. Al­le­ga­tions have a ten­dency to be­come fact. Fail­ure to re­spond can eas­ily be in­ter­preted as ar- ro­gance, en­cour­ag­ing a sense that the key play­ers in­volved in the scan­dal are im­mune to crit­i­cism be­cause the rules they op­er­ate by dif­fer from those that gov­ern us. In such an at­mos­phere the con­di­tions be­come ripe for in­sur­rec­tion be­cause oth­ers – those pay- ing for state cap­ture ei­ther through tax or fealty or both – feel im­po­tent in the face of such mas­sive and cal­lous in­sou­ciance and some may opt to take the law into their own hands be­cause they feel jus­tifi- ably ag­grieved. We al­ready live atop a tin­der box of anger and seething re­sent­ment, all too ev­i­dent in the vi­o­lent ser­vice de­liv­ery protests that spo­rad­i­cally erupt. It takes very lit­tle to ig­nite more dis­rup­tive protest ac­tion. The only an­ti­dote to public dis­af­fec­tion and anger is proper lead­er­ship. Can the real lead­ers of South Africa please stand up?

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