Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane 6 January 2014

Dear Advocate Thuli Madonsela, let’s talk frankly: do take heart

You have had an eventful run since your surprise appointment by President Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. Like a few of the President's other appointments, at first we wondered why you? But your sterling work has now spoken volumes for itself. And so credit must go also to Msholozi.

You will agree with me Madam that one of the biggest fault lines of our society is debilitating corruption. This is the Achilles heel of broader society in both the private and public sectors. In fact corruption is exacerbated by collusion amongst our people. A corrupter has an equally corrupt corruptee.

Big business, as you may well attest, now has fancy terms for bribery – such as a ‘facilitation fee’ or ‘stakeholder management fees’ – that appear in budgets these days. Some of this rot is written with utter glee in financial reports and is accepted by the likes of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange who, in so doing, turn a blind eye to broad daylight robbery of our people.

All evidence points to the fact that big business does not take transformation imperatives seriously, hence the horrendous statistics on employment equity year after year. Some secretly know that all they really have to do is to embark on fronting and insulting tokenism to get desperate black people to do their dirty work through blatant bribery and corruption and all will be mighty fine.

But Madam they also know that your sights are mostly focused on public sector corruption and there is no equivalent campaigning knight in shining armour keeping the private sector on its toes. Imagine, as part dealing with the cycle of corruption, that you applied the same energy and focus you expend on the public sector to the often-collusionary practices in the private sector.

I hope you attend to this soon. I know I digress already, but the perception that your office has its guns out for the ANC needs to be addressed and one of the ways to do this is to bare your fangs at more than just the public sector. Surely the public also needs to be protected from private sector greed? Surely the laws of the country governing the combating of graft should also apply to private citizens? Lastly, it may also help if you didn’t attend party political gatherings.

Having said this Madam, none of this takes away from the exceptional work that you have been doing, exposing the scoundrels in our midst. It is clear that as a result there are some amongst us who would rather you were dead right now. I hope this horrible fact will inspire those who don’t wish it so, to come out and defend the independence and integrity of your office and stop hiding behind semantics about the sudden new understanding of what your role should be.

You must be particularly annoyed by the recent and not-so-veiled accusations from the ANC that you may have a political agenda or that your posture amounts to political grandstanding, or most ludicrously that you may be getting advice from the political opposition.

But please take heart. Millions of South Africans are in your corner. I don’t even need you to respond to such ingredients of opportunistic political obfuscation. In your position you have to ignore these remarks and thoroughly resist the temptation to justify yourself. Your credentials speak loudly for themselves.

Madam I know it’s tough on your calm self, but take heart. You are easily the best appointment of President Zuma’s term of office. Through this appointment alone the President has done more to fight the stench of corruption than all his numerous proclamations that have so far not produced much by way of guilty verdicts.

With your appointment, he was empowered to fire communications minister, Dina Pule, and national police commissioner Bheki Cele. I know that many who are gunning for Zuma don’t want to admit that you are Zuma’s one masterstroke for our democracy. I am not for a minute suggesting that he may not end up being a victim of his success if the leaked report is anything to go by.

Frankly, even that eventuality will not take away from the success of just appointing you. I suspect however that whoever recommended you for this appointment might well be hiding under a rock right now. Ironically it may well be a continuation of the litany of incredible legal advice that the President has been receiving throughout his term of office.

Madam I know it’s been tough. But take heart. The gimmick attempts at silencing or humiliating you come with a job as tough as yours. It comes with the territory of interfering with people’s ill-gotten gains.

Even Jesus Christ was sjamboked by his own people when they perceived him to be bigger than his sandals. This after he overturned tables at a market taking place in his father’s temple. You have to understand therefore that the worst is yet to come because corruption, like the unholy marketplace in that New Testament tale, is festers as we speak.

Why do you think government has appointed ethics officers all over the public service? Why do you think it is passing new laws to jail civil servants who are giving their girlfriends business?

So, take heart Madam.

If you think the howls against you in parliament from all and sundry over the IEC corruption, the recent snide remarks from Luthuli house over the Nkandla report, and the botched court interdict attempt to “buy time” by the security cluster were all by mistake, then you have to think again.

Sadly, there are too many people who will benefit from your downfall. It’s not funny. I must say though that refusing the ministers a few more days to browse your provisional report was a big mistake on your part and falls within the definition overzealous. I mean if there is a swimming pool at Nkandla it was not going to dry up in a few days of your graceful extension?

You need to remember that our security cluster comrades have never had the experience of dealing with a proper public protector since 1994. Your decorative predecessors, God bless them, couldn’t make an adverse finding to save their lives. So by refusing a few days grace, you erred and have now inadvertently created a storm in a teacup about the subsequent leak of the report. If I were Jesse Duarte, I would also try and play games so that your adverse findings could be questioned. These are politics and, as we are told even by ex convicts, ‘they are not for saints’. No, the ANC is not going to roll back and die over your terrible findings in the face of an election.

Look, when all is said and done, the reality is that you have security of tenure and therefore no one has been able to produce anything that would remove you from your effective office for the next three years. So, take heart. However, I just don’t know where on earth you intend to retire because as it seems, with all the disgruntlement that abounds from the movement, you are going to have a miserable life after your term of office.

I can’t fit in everything I want to talk to you about in this letter, so let me abide by the line of our movement and await your final reports. Until then, do take heart.

Yours Frankly

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane. DM



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