LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR
We now have more information to use against the SARS villains – it’s time to go for them
The chickens have finally come home to roost in this story of greed and graft, which we investigated many years ago. Now we South Africans need to make it very clear that the plunder of state resources will not be tolerated any more.
Dear DM168 readers,
Our little Highveld Garden is still alarmingly green from the unseasonal rain. The cabbages, baby tomatoes and spinach are perfect for harvesting, but the signs of black frost on the mint which my late father planted and my shivery toes and fingers, let me know for sure that winter is here.
I stand out here in this garden of my hands and heart to climb out of my head and the screaming demands of my laptop. This wintry garden and the view of that stoic, stocky Faerie Glen koppie reminds me of all that I love about South Africa and the poetry that seeps from the veins of ancient quartzite through generations of humans from San to Tswana, to Ndebele to Voortrekkers and now the whole hodge podge of humans from all over the country, our continent, and the world, who like me, make their home here.
This place in winter brings me close to a kindred spirit, fellow editor, poet and naturalist Eugène Marais who was as moved as I am by this landscape and nature which envelopes me when he wrote in his poem “Winternag”:
‘O koud is die windjie
En blink in die dof-lig
so wyd as die Heer se genade,
lê die velde in sterlig en skade
En hoog in die rande,
versprei in die brande,
is die grassaad aan roere
soos winkende hande.
The English translation by Guy Butler is not as rugged, guttural, soulful and intrinsically embedded in the land as the Afrikaans original. I say this as a mixed-race colonial child born in a country of mellifluous, lyrical multiple tongues, whose mother tongue sadly comes from the Queen – oh yes, it’s now the King – of that cold, rainy island that conquered most of the world to spice up their bland food along with other ignoble pursuits of Empire:
‘Cold is the slight wind and sere.
And gleaming in dim light and bare,
as vast as the mercy of God,
lie the plains in starlight and shade.
And high on the ridges,
among the burnt patches,
the seed grass is stirring
like beckoning fingers.
You get the drift. Some outsiders who view themselves as superior might see us as a backward people with no centuries of so-called civilisation visible in 1,000-year-old castles, moats and cobbled city streets and alleyways. But like our planet, our land is layered with stories rich and deep, mysterious and beautiful. We may not have the Pyramids of Giza, Great Zimbabwe, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China or Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal, but we have this vast, beautiful expanse of rock, mountains, sand, forest, rolling savannah left untouched by early humans who knew that leaving footprints in the sand is kinder to the Earth than massive developments and monuments to huge egos. And of course, we have US. SOUTH AFRICANS. Diverse, messy, complicated, a few rich, some middle class, many poor. A nation of people who represent all who reside on the planet. This could be our blessing, our advantage, but to many who walk with wounds and scars from deprivation, myopia, entitlement, inferiority and superiority complexes and hurt from the past, it is our curse.
If we viewed our wealth of human diversity as a blessing and embraced all of us in a common vision to end poverty and strive for the fulfilment of both our country’s and every single citizen’s human potential, we would not still have racists who think Black people are incompetent and stupid. We would not have cheap political populists, desperadoes and xenophobes saying all Zimbabweans, Malawians, White people and Indian people should go home. We would also not have the massive greed and corruption that have brought our state and country to its knees, leaving citizens to live a dog-eat-dog, each-one-for-themselves existence. We would listen more and shout less. We would learn more and embarrass ourselves with our bigotry and ignorance less.
I write this with our lead story in this week’s DM168 in mind. You could see it as a positive story by our Scorpio investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk. It’s a story of greed, graft, manipulation of an organ of state meant for tax collection to provide much-needed services for South Africa’s citizens. It’s a story of using a relationship with a buddy in a position of power to score a big tender for a job that ended up being worthless, useless, redundant. Those of you with memories of the State Capture era will know this story has something to do with Jacob Zuma’s buddy Tom Moyane and years of messing up SARS, as exposed by Judge Nugent in the Nugent Commission.
Pauli investigated this story many years ago and this week she explains how the chickens have finally come home to roost. It’s a baby step. The big fish named by Judge Nugent and Judge Zondo are still swimming freely, but multinational tech firm Gartner’s revealing self-disclosure about its corrupt 2015 deal with the South African Revenue Service and the resultant R50-million penalty secured by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, is a start.
The NPA and Hawks now have more information to use against those who tried to disrupt and destroy SARS for their own nefarious purposes. They need to go for them, investigate them, charge them, try them and get them to pay back OUR money in whatever way will help fix our broken country.
We South Africans need to make it very clear that no crookery or theft of state resources will be tolerated any more. We can do this by supporting campaigns to tighten legislation that will ensure competent and skilled civil servants are hired to work in government as opposed to cadre deployment. This would in turn ensure our law enforcers are swept clean of corrupt cronies.
Finally, dear reader, we can do this by voting for candidates or a political party in next year’s election who can prove to us that they will be servants of all of us, the people, not just their friends, family and party loyalists.
Yours in defence of truth and beauty,
Share your views with me at [email protected]