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ANALYSIS

The SA government’s priority is clear — VIP protection matters more than the NPA

The SA government’s priority is clear — VIP protection matters more than the NPA
Illustrative image: (Photos: X – formerly Twitter) / @kg007man | Wikipedia | Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe)

While politics is often a battlefield of contesting ideas, governance is usually about the prose of policy choices and spending preferences. When the poetry of vision statements ends, voters can judge politicians on their budgetary allocations — invariably more revealing than the words that precede elections. Confirmation that the National Prosecuting Authority is suffering the consequences of spending cuts while the VIP Protection Unit’s budget has been increased again is a near-perfect demonstration of the Ramaphosa administration’s priorities.

On Sunday, more information was revealed about the situation inside the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), with a Sunday Times report showing how the fight against crime will be weakened by budget cuts.

These cuts, along with others in many government services, including health and education, were first announced in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

The cuts mean the NPA will not have money to pay prosecutors for overtime, nor can it afford to hire new prosecutors.

This is an authority that is already suffering from a critical shortage of skills, money and experience.

The NPA context is crucial here. There is plenty of evidence of the huge amount of often violent crime that the people of South Africa are forced to suffer and endure.

Already, only about 14% of murders in the country end in a conviction.

The murder rate in KwaZulu-Natal is so high that, as Daily Maverick’s Chris Makhaye reported, many people in the province have hired bodyguards (themselves often involved in criminality). Countrywide, there is an explosion of armed private security companies.

Then there are the high-profile cases that the NPA is dealing with. It has lodged an appeal in the Nulane case, which was described as the “blueprint” for State Capture.

The fact it lost this case was plain embarrassing for the NPA — if it does not win the appeal, its credibility will be dealt another blow, casting doubt on its ability to prosecute other State Capture cases.

Then there is the matter of former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.

This is a case that gets to the heart of some of the corruption that has occurred at Eskom, and yet the NPA was not ready to proceed with the corruption case against Koko on the date it was meant to do so.

Ex-Eskom boss Matshela Koko’s corruption case still not ready for trial, magistrate demands answers from NPA

There is, obviously, a direct line between the lack of accountability and SA’s rising levels of crime. And there is no doubt that our leaders know this.

Just two weeks ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the National Dialogue on Anti-Corruption that “those individuals and companies that have enriched themselves at the expense of the people must face the consequences of their misdeeds”.

In 2020, he promised to fight gender-based violence and said one of the key undertakings was “strengthening the criminal justice system”.

Instead, as Gender Politics Professor Amanda Gouws has written in The Conversation, violence against women has become normalised in South Africa.

Crime pays

Ramaphosa has presided over a situation where the prosecution of crime has fallen through the floor, conviction rates have declined, and more and more women are the victims of violence, with perpetrators getting away with it.

Under Ramaphosa, crime pays.

So normalised has this systemic failure become that it threatens the fabric of our society.

The most public rending of this fabric occurred in July 2021, when civil unrest and looting broke out in KZN and Gauteng, and the authorities were powerless to stop it. The army did nothing and the police often needed to be protected by the communities they were supposed to protect.

At the time it was obvious how important some level of accountability was going to be. We suggested then that for South Africa to survive, everyone involved in the violence had to be held accountable

Since then, almost nothing has happened.

It defies belief that an event even Ramaphosa described as a “failed insurrection” has not been properly dealt with. This shows how directly the state itself is threatened by a lack of capacity in the criminal justice system.

It appears that there’s nothing to prevent such a “failed insurrection” from happening again.

While Ramaphosa, the government he leads and the party he heads are comfortable with cutting the NPA’s budget, they are also content to spend more public money on themselves.

That same MTBPS that cut funding for the NPA also included an increase of R52-million for presidential and VIP protection. 

This means that more state money is being spent on VIP protection officers who assault the occupants of a vehicle in broad daylight on a highway.

It means that more money is being spent on the head of the Presidential Protection Service, Wally Rhoode, the man who failed to ensure that charges were laid against those accused of the break-in at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

It means that more money is being spent to pay VIP protection officers who failed to stop Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga from being robbed on the N3 in Gauteng and R37,000 in cash from being taken from one of her guards.

It means more money to protect people who already receive, free, two homes, generators and diesel to run them. And when they are challenged on this, they say they need these perks because of the high cost of their medical aid.

Spending decisions are always revealing – they show what decision-makers’ priorities are.

It is clear that the VIP Protection Unit is of crucial importance to the ruling party. The rest of us — not so much. We are on our own. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    It’s simple Stephen. If you as the governing party are so bad at your job, to govern, and more interested in how deep your snout is in the public provided trough, then few people will like you, except some of your party colleagues who also have their snouts in the trough. When unliked, you need protection – big time. It may also make you feel more important than the other animals in the farm yard. (Some thoughts after George Orwell).

  • Derek Jones says:

    Ramaphosa is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Johann Olivier says:

      From day one, during the halcyon days of his elevation, I was gobsmacked by the adulation & relief. Maybe it was a function of desperation, to believe-hope fervently that Squirrel would be the saviour. He was, after all, a ‘man of business’. Forgotten was his years as Zuma’s shtum sidekick. Ignored was his rise to ‘billionaire’ from shop steward in a scant decade, without any discernable means or product (like, for instance, quirky Elon, or Mark Shuttleworth.) He has, over his time in office, shown himself to be in the mould of the rest of the clowns. More like a sheep in wolf’s clothing…

  • Denise Smit says:

    And what about their R24 000 per head eating on the plane. Surely catering costs for the corrupt hungry bunch of state capturers must also be increased. As you say take away from the poor to enrich and protect the failed government. No wonder Godongwana has heartburn.

  • Henry Coppens says:

    It’s now a no brainer. You vote ANC. This is what you get. Automatic.

  • Wilhelm Boshoff says:

    Indeed, we are in our own.

  • John P says:

    This is the kind of information opposition parties need to bring to the electorate if they intend to change the status quo.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    I wonder if Cyril ever stops and wonders why all in Government are so detested such that it seems none can go anywhere without a phalanx of protection officers?

    I wonder if it crosses his mind that, if they all do a good job they might all be revered rather than reviled?

    Could save fortunes all round, Cyril, if they were all competent.

    • Mark K says:

      In the 80s, I saw PW Botha buying flowers at the flower sellers in Rondebosch. He had two bodyguards with him, each with a handgun. A mere two, despite the groot krokodil being so despised.

      In the 90s, I had a friendly argument with Kader Asmal about education policy. In the checkout queue at Pick ‘n Pay. Not a bodyguard in sight.

      Says a lot about the current crop of arrogant, paranoid incompetents.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    It’s the neatest trick in the book! Publicly concede that you are Accused No. 1 when appearing before the State Capture enquiry. Conceding before the same enquiry that State Capture was indeed a thing but then under capacitating the prosecuting authority meant to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book!
    It’s a simple but effective plan by the ANC brains trust to ensure a thin veneer of ‘plausible deniability’ whilst supplying ‘innocent until proven guilty’ bullet proof armour to its own membership.
    Meanwhile the looting continues in a business as usual manner by the same individuals adding to the ‘cases to be investigated but can never hope to get round to’ in tray of the weakened law enforcement agencies
    I am old enough to remember the influence of the South African Council of Churches in the fight against apartheid. Religious groups in this country remain a very influential & important voice & I think they need to raise a collective voice of condemnation yet again. Our Govt has become every bit as morally bereft & self serving as the National Party was.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    It is what SA has come to expect from Cyril the spineless and his putrid anc. This individual is nothing but a huge fraud – he says one thing and does the opposite, convinced that he is hoodwinking the public, and is to a large extent. His hypocrisy, duplicity and immorality knows no bounds as witnessed by countless acts such as this as well as his stinking foreign policy where he closes ranks with the most vile and evil mass-murderers on earth. In the process, he trashes the values, principles and aspirations of our Constitution and his party’s founding fathers. In typical anc DNA, they look after their own to the detriment of just about every citizen of this country.

  • PETER BAKER says:

    The serious poop in which we South Africans find ourselves was predicted years ago…around the time all the Ramaphoria praise singing journalists like Steven Grootes (and many other ANC apologists in DM) and Peter Bruce, to name two of the more serious contenders for ANC sycophants of the age, punted the septic ANC, in our so called free, but definitely unliberated press. This rot was on the cards a day after Nelson Mandela died. But no, our unliberated free press chose to ride the crippled and terminally diseased hag of a horse to the very end. They continue to think they will cross the line without a change in horses. Shame on them and more so shame on us for not rejecting them and their poison pens from the get-go. At all cost South Africans must terminate the ANC running anything in our country before we reach the point of no return.

  • Gordon Clarke says:

    How is it possible that an electorate can continue to elect a party whose leaders have continuously failed to live up to their pre election promises. Our esteemed, self important, President and appointed ministers have proved themselves inept and incompetent on numerous occasions, yet still continue to rape the fiscus with no expectation of consequence. A failed state!!! And will continue Ad Infinitum!!!

  • Con Tester says:

    Well, what did you expect from an arrogant cabal of crooks, incompetents, and freeloaders?! That they would provide the rope by which they would be hanged?

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Orwell’s Animal Farm to a tee

  • Dietmar Welz says:

    Protect the inner party, control the outer party and debilitate the proletariat. The ANC has made the well-being of an entire country – it’s opportunity cost.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Democracy has a glitch or two which mean it doesn’t work everywhere and we are a worked example of that. SA absolutely deserves it’s fate and I’m increasingly certain that the electorate will speed us on our way down the toilet in the next elections.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Excellent article, cutting to the nub of it: lavish protection for the elite, from the state and Bosasa and whoever else is involved, but nothing for Babita Deokoran or Charl Kinnear. Ramaphosa’s ANC is simply a continuation of Zuma’s, just with a useless, grinning emperor with no clothes making feeble statements, thinking anybody gives a damn. This generation of ANC heavyweights are the most evil in South African politics since PW Botha’s jackboot generals terrorised the region. Not one ANC heavyweight is a decent person, with a conscience, not a shred of decency.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    A juxtaposition that illustrates the relationship between goof governance and corruption perfectly:

    President Ian Khama, when in power in Botswana, would regularly cycle down to his local coffee shop on a Sunday morning and read the papers whilst having breakfast. President Robert Mugabe had the roads around his presidential palace sealed off to public vehicles after dark, every night, on threat of arrest or being shot. Our sleazy mob are resolutely in the Mugabe camp. Trough-swillers, the lot of them.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    The nerve and arrogance of this Government are incredible😠

  • Les Thorpe says:

    Can’t have the NPA going off at a tangent and arresting our comrades, can we?

    NEC’s instructions to Ramaphoser: “Keep repeating: ‘We are fighting corruption on all fronts’. Promise thousands of jobs. Promise free education and free electricity with the occasional KFC thrown in. Some of the citizens may believe you and vote for us. After the elections, tell the gullible that they were ‘misinformed'”

  • William Kelly says:

    Weird. I just commented elsewhere that we’re on our own. Except for that pesky SARS and Kieswetter thing. I’d really like him to come and put forward his moral highground for paying taxes. In this day and age it is EASY to direct my taxes to where I want them to go – it’s a simple click of an allocation button. Come Kieswetter, show yourself!

  • Leslie van Minnen says:

    Remember the corrupt ANC promised a better life for all. Which “all” one may ask. The old saying all people are born equal however some are more equal then others. This has being the ANC’s mantra for the last 30 years. Slippery slope to nowhere just got even more slippery. The ANC and their commie buddies are so important that they need this amount of protection. What was the figure, 30 000 South Africans murdered in the last 12 months. One must put these issue into perspective. Only ANC bigwigs are impotent enough to protect, forget the other 30 000. One minister gets robbed on one of our highways and the ANC are shocked. Says it all. Keep your power dry as another old saying goes.

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