We have fallen and should no longer be wondering about the process of the fall but instead about how we arrest the descent and how best to reclaim the exercise of public power so that it actually serves the interests the Republic.
It is no longer a question of whether we are in the process of descending from the promise of a vibrant and inclusive South Africa. Instead, we are already coming to realise this is what it feels like when you have fallen. We are already sitting in the abyss of that fall and despair. We have fallen from the promise of freedom and this is demonstrated simply by looking at the man who holds the highest office and everything that he represents. However, our challenges cannot and should not only be isolated only to the state capture represented by the Guptas. We must arrest the state capture but as a society we also need to question and confront the basis for why state capture was possible in a free and democratic society.
We must be reminded that millions of South Africans are forced to go it alone because of that fall. South Africans are required to defend their own rights, to defend the rule of law and to uncover the rot that has been allowed to consume our country. The fall into the abyss is epitomised by the Zuma years, the Guptas, kleptocracy, corruption and rampant indifference and disdain to the foundational values of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
We must confront the institutional and executive muscle that resides and is entrusted in the Presidency and we must return power to the people in order to prevent similar calamities and other families from consuming the Republic for their own needs, weddings and aircraft landings. We must prevent the funnelling and misappropriation of public money and public power at all costs. We must turn our eyes to reforming the powers provided to the President of the Republic. We must create additional mechanisms to hold those who yield public power accountable. We cannot assume that the best virtues of our leaders will be exercised, but instead we must prepare our democracy so that it can survive and confront these assaults.
The state capture and corruption have crippled our government, state-owned enterprises, public institutions and our leaders from serving the people and their Republic. It is no longer a question of whether self-interest has consumed our country but rather a question of how far that rot has gone. The parasitic nature of this state capture truly knows no bounds and is all-consuming in its brazen disdain for integrity, dignity, the rule of law or the foundational values of our constitutional democracy.
The #GuptaLeaks have allowed South Africans, and the world, insight into how the Gupta Mafiosi have operated and how various corporate entities, government leaders and leading public figures played a role in providing the entire developmental state on a platter for the private use of one family and all those on their payroll (funded in its entirety with public resources). Yet, no one has been held accountable for these crimes.
The extent of this corruption and abuse is astounding, but what is more troubling is not simply that public officials, politicians and companies did not just delegate their authority and power but substituted it with the agenda of self-interest and corruption. We have witnessed treasonous and criminal conduct by those who were entrusted to protect the Republic and to serve its people. We have fallen and should no longer be wondering about the process of the fall but instead about how we arrest the descent and how best to reclaim the exercise of public power so that it actually serves the interests the Republic.
It is not a question of whether we have reached the bottom of that abyss but instead we need to confront the fact that South Africa, and all its promise, has collapsed upon itself. The collapse is rooted in the unfinished business of the compromises required in order to achieve democracy in 1994 but the collapse has been accelerated by various role-players including President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta Mafiosi.
How much work will need to be undertaken in order to eradicate the rot and malfeasance of the Zuma years? How much work will be required by all South Africans in order to chart a way forward so that the Republic serves the people and finds real answers to inequality, poverty and unemployment? However, while we struggle to find the space to address those issues, the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty are not being addressed but simply ignored and exacerbated by the substitution of public power with the agenda of state capture and the cabal that it serves.
However, it appears that our disgust and shock is not shared by those who are entrusted to uphold the rule of law. The National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Police Services and all of the billions that are spent on upholding the rule of law seem to be distracted with other issues when they should be focused on arresting wrongdoers, prosecuting the obvious culprits and pursuing the prima facie evidence in order to ensure that justice is being seen to be done. The parasitic hold of state capture has infiltrated and consumed the very people and entities that should be wholeheartedly pursuing convictions against all those involved in this cabal.
The silence and inaction by our law enforcement officials is deeply concerning because how many other wrongdoers, who happen to be connected to the right family and those on their payroll, have gone unchecked and continue to violate the rule of law because those entrusted to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution have been far too busy lining their own pockets (and those in their broad network of corruption, patronage and self-interest).
Prima facie proof does exist, setting out in some detail that various violations of the rule of law have been committed. For instance, the constitutional rights of various South Africans have been violated. South Africans have a fair expectation of a right to privacy and it appears quite blatant that various government entities may have assisted or even committed serious violations of their own but also acted as accomplices to the theft and pillaging of the State.
The work of uncovering the rot will be left for us to shoulder. The work of confronting and pursuing the treasonous criminals will be ours but it will be a struggle, once more, against those who stand in the way of realising a free, democratic and inclusive South Africa that serves the interests of the people – always. DM
Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar was born in Cape Town and raised by his determined mother, grandparents, aunt and the rest of his maternal family. He is an admitted attorney (formerly of the corporate hue), with recent exposure in the public sector, and is currently working on transport and infrastructure projects. He is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, and a WEF Global Shaper. He had a brief stint in the contemporary party politic environment working for Mamphela Ramphele as Agang CEO and chief-of-staff; he found the experience a deeply educational one.