WHO STOLE CYRIL’S NUTS?

Sunday Tribune - - PEOPLE - DEN­NIS PATHER den­nis.pather@telkomsa.net Cyril the Squir­rel and the Nut Thieves, An­i­mal Farm,

THERE I was the other evening, read­ing out aloud a bed­time story to my grand­daugh­ter, Leah, when the im­age of the coun­try’s pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphosa kept pop­ping on to the page.

In a mo­ment, I re­alised why.

The story was called

and I rea­soned the con­nec­tion was that the bushy-tailed wood­land crea­ture hap­pened to bear the same first name as our pres­i­dent.

It was a tale about a squir­rel head­ing out to dig up nuts to eat but when he reaches the spot where he thought they were hid­den, he dis­cov­ers some­one had got there be­fore him. Who has stolen Cyril the Squir­rel’s nuts?

Once my grand­daugh­ter had slipped into dreamland, my mind be­gan to wan­der. Is it pos­si­ble that, like George Or­well’s the story about Cyril the Squir­rel and the Nut Thieves was not just an­other kid’s bed­time story? Was it per­haps a mod­ern-day satire on Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa’s search for the bil­lions stashed away by the Gup­tas and their co­horts in the state cap­ture saga?

This was not go­ing to be an easy task for Ramaphosa. The Gup­tas had al­ready suc­ceeded in slip­ping through the net, so to fer­ret out all those other mis­cre­ants who’ve been

When you ex­tend your gaze on cor­rup­tion even fur­ther, you re­alise the swamp is not just some small marshy pond

aid­ing and abet­ting the broth­ers in their loot­ing spree, the en­tire swamp would have to be drained.

Ramaphosa has made a ten­ta­tive start – by talk­ing the right talk; get­ting rid of the for­mer SA Rev­enue Ser­vice com­mis­sioner, Tom Moy­ane; and set­ting up var­i­ous com­mis­sions of in­quiry.

But given the enor­mity of his mis­sion, this is go­ing to re­quire more than just dip­ping his toes into the shal­low wa­ters. Lurk­ing in the murky swamp are big­ger fish, like for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his son Duduzane, and Cab­i­net min­is­ters Batha­bile Dlamini and Malusi Gi­gaba who are all now sub­jects of lit­i­ga­tion in var­i­ous courts.

Then there are the ques­tion­able mul­ti­mil­lion-rand deals in­volv­ing peo­ple like Lynne Brown, Brian Molefe and Anoj Singh, se­nior ANC of­fi­cials im­pli­cated in the Vrede dairy scan­dal and those in­volved in the whole­sale theft and loot­ing that left VBS Mu­tual Bank broke.

When you ex­tend your gaze on cor­rup­tion even fur­ther, you re­alise the swamp is not just some small marshy pond across the fence – it’s a gi­ant haz­ardous quag­mire that’s suck­ing all of us in. Ramaphosa knows how deep the swamp is. He re­alises the preda­tors lurk­ing be­low the sur­face and the threat they pose to the coun­try.

But he’s de­cided not to rush im­pul­sively into so­lu­tions, opt­ing in­stead to move with pa­tience, strate­gic pre­ci­sion and trans­parency to get the job done.

As much as I would like to see more heads roll sooner, Ramaphosa’s ap­proach makes sense. I reckon any pres­i­dent who says he’s so se­ri­ous about fight­ing cor­rup­tion that he’s even pre­pared to take his own chil­dren to prison if they’re ever found guilty of wrong­do­ing de­serves a fair chance.

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