Zuma, this be trea­son

CityPress - - Voices - Mondli Makhanya voices@city­press.co.za

In his state­ment to the Zondo Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han speaks of state cap­ture and cor­rup­tion as be­ing the “con­se­quences of the un­leash­ing of the worst hu­man in­stincts: self-en­rich­ment, ne­glect of the higher mis­sion and plac­ing one’s self-in­ter­est be­fore the com­mu­nity’s in­ter­ests”.

He then goes on to re­count how he was an “un­wit­ting mem­ber” of a Cabi­net that was “mis­led, lied to, ma­nip­u­lated and abused” to “re­lease the worst forms of cor­rup­tion” for the ben­e­fit of a few fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als.

In the process, he says, much dam­age was done to the econ­omy and the in­sti­tu­tions of state, and or­di­nary peo­ple were robbed of schools, clin­ics and ed­u­ca­tion.

“The real cost of state cap­ture is the dam­age it has done to the in­sti­tu­tional fab­ric of the state. Good peo­ple lost their jobs, fam­i­lies were put through trauma and vil­i­fi­ca­tion for stand­ing up, and the last­ing im­pact of the past decade weak­ened and hol­lowed out our state. A cul­ture of malfea­sance was le­git­imised and tol­er­ated with in­creas­ing impunity and a lack of ac­count­abil­ity,” writes Gord­han.

Much of what is in Gord­han’s tes­ti­mony is not en­tirely new, but its rich­ness lies in the con­nect­ing of the dots.

What shines through – and makes the blood re­ally boil – is the role of the then pres­i­dent in hol­low­ing out the state, he be­ing the chief en­abler of the state cap­ture project and the reck­less­ness that landed us in the mire that we are cur­rently in.

Like sev­eral oth­ers who have tes­ti­fied be­fore the com­mis­sion, Gord­han puts Ja­cob Zuma at the scene of the crime. He paints a pic­ture of a pres­i­dent who is at the beck and call of the Gupta fam­ily, and who will do any­thing and ev­ery­thing to fa­cil­i­tate smooth rides for this fam­ily.

Gord­han speaks in de­tail about Zuma’s rogue be­hav­iour, which, in places, shows just how un­in­ter­ested he was in run­ning the coun­try prop­erly, but just how to­tally com­mit­ted he was to help­ing par­a­sites suck the last drop of blood from the fis­cus.

By high­light­ing sev­eral lu­cra­tive pet pro­jects – nu­clear pro­cure­ment; the bid by PetroSA to buy Malaysian com­pany Petronas’ stake in En­gen; the pro­posed set­ting up of Denel Asia with a Gupta-linked com­pany; and the mess at SAA – he shows that Zuma was in­ter­ested in the minu­tiae of af­fairs that af­fected his cir­cle of cronies, bene­fac­tors and bed-warm­ers.

“Suf­fice to say that at least two of th­ese pro­jects share sim­i­lar­i­ties with re­spect to their size and mon­e­tary value and the level of in­ter­est shown by for­mer pres­i­dent Zuma in them,” says Gord­han.

With nu­clear he did not care how much it cost, as long as he hon­oured the se­cret, dirty deals he had made with those who would ben­e­fit from our mis­ery – in­clud­ing his thug friend in Moscow. De­spite be­ing warned about the com­plex­i­ties of the deal, the costs that would most likely be in­curred and the pro­cesses that would have to be law­fully fol­lowed, Zuma just wanted to plough ahead.

If he’d had his way, to­day we would find our­selves more than a tril­lion rands in the dwang and a ser­vant to the Rus­sian es­tab­lish­ment for decades to come.

If he’d had his way, Denel’s valu­able tech­nol­ogy and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty trea­sure trove would be ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple who have no in­ter­est in South Africa’s good­will.

Sim­i­larly, if he’d had his way, his bed-warmer would have in­debted us – via the na­tional air­line that she helped dig deep into cri­sis – to cap­i­tal mar­kets for years and years.

We would not have the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre Act amend­ments needed to bring us in line with global norms and to bet­ter pro­tect us from laun­der­ers and other movers of il­licit money.

The Gup­tas would still have their bank ac­counts in which they were fer­ret­ing ill-got­ten gains and then chan­nelling them in sus­pi­cious ways to who knows where.

The list goes on and on.

But the bot­tom line is that for 10 years we had a pres­i­dent who hated South Africa and its cit­i­zens.

This coun­try was run by some­one who, de­spite swear­ing “to be faith­ful to the Re­pub­lic of South Africa”, was sell­ing our sovereignty.

In a piece for City Press last July, for­mer po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, union­ist and pub­lic ser­vant Cun­ning­ham Ngcukana called for civil so­ci­ety to set up a fund for the pri­vate pros­e­cu­tion of Zuma and his acolytes on trea­son, es­pi­onage and money laun­der­ing charges. This, he ar­gued, should take the place of a com­mis­sion of in­quiry, which would take too long.

“For trea­son to oc­cur there must be in­tent, as well as con­comi­tant ac­tion, to vi­o­late a coun­try’s le­gal or­der. In other words, trea­son is a breach of the al­le­giance that a ci­ti­zen owes to his coun­try. It be­comes more se­ri­ous when com­mit­ted by those en­trusted by the Con­sti­tu­tion, and by law, to pre­vent it and to pros­e­cute those guilty of com­mit­ting it. As with any crime, wrong­ful in­tent is a cru­cial el­e­ment of trea­son,” wrote Ngcukana.

It is ob­vi­ously too late not to have a com­mis­sion. Be­sides, the Zondo com­mis­sion has been extremely use­ful in shed­ding light on the cor­ro­sive be­hav­iour of Zuma and those around him. The lessons we will learn from this com­mis­sion will be use­ful to fu­ture generations, who will be able to de­tect early signs of state cap­ture and act ac­cord­ingly.

One can­not pre-empt the find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions of the learned jus­tice, but from the seat of this lowly news­pa­per­man, this be trea­son.

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