Opinionista Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar 19 July 2017

Act now against the criminal activity that plagues South Africa

This is a struggle for what is right. A fight that will have to be led by good women and men, people who don’t hold public office or seek the limelight.

The issues South Africa is currently having to contend with are not some distant nightmare but part of a familiar struggle.

This is a struggle for what is right. A fight that will have to be led by good women and men, people who don’t hold public office or seek the limelight. South Africans who are forced today to stand up to what is wrong because those entrusted to serve the Republic and South Africans have neglected both their duties and their oath of office that they swore to uphold as well as our Constitution. We are willing to stand against an insurmountable force that is hell-bent on using power, public power, death threats, smear campaigns, propaganda and criminal activity.

We should not be surprised that those men and women have a bipolar relationship with the truth. We only need to look at the engagements of Minister Lynne Brown as she tries to avoid the obvious truth of what is taking place at Transnet and Eskom – all under her watch! We should not be surprised that the president and his factional band of cronies are people of clay feet. We should be outraged that not only are these people and their accomplices in the massive criminal conspiracy that has captured the state but that they are active participants in subverting our democracy to line their own pockets and those of their fellow band of criminals.

The voices against the State Capture may be gathering as we saw on Mandela Day this week at the Conference for the Future of South Africa where more than 100 civil society organisations gathered to discuss the current political crisis that is consuming all of the available oxygen and head space in South Africa. We should be encouraged by these efforts; however, a great deal more needs to take place to revive the role civil society plays within our democracy. Organisations, business and civil society at large need to step into the breach that has been created during the Zuma years. We have no choice but to act against this hive of corrupt and criminal activity.

However, it will not be enough simply to arrange marches or for submissions to be made to the criminals. It will not be enough to simply speak out. South Africans at large, like they did during apartheid, will need not only to speak out but actively resist the crude and criminal subversion of our democracy.

We must fight this subversion and the only way to do so is for us to put our teeth in the game if we are ever going to remove the rot that has been allowed to set in under the Zuma presidency and his band of criminal misfits. The work that needs to be done will not simply end by bringing the criminal conspiracy to an end but will also require our collective efforts to restore confidence in our public institutions and in particular State-Owned Entities such as Eskom, Transnet, the SABC and PetroSA that have been redirected in order to serve only the interest of the few instead of fulfilling their mandate.

We have recently seen voices within the Tripartite Alliance, in particular that of the South African Communist Party, speaking out against Zuma and all that he represents, especially the voice of Solly Mapaila, recently elected as the First Deputy Secretary-General, who has been unequivocal that Zuma must step down. The retrospective and recalibrated voices of those that supported the Zuma tsunami are problematic in that so many South Africans, who are only now willing to speak out, enabled and supported the rise of our flawed and hopelessly corrupt president, who ascended to power in 2007.

Those South Africans did so knowing that Zuma had a problematic past, that he had a penchant for blurred lines, that he had a very healthy appetite for wealth and bright lights and that he relied on his friends to access those trappings.

Pravin Gordhan, former Finance Minister, at the Conference for the Future of South Africa, elected to speak out against Zuma directly, saying he thinks that the president should move aside and let somebody take over this country and reset the course”. Voices against State Capture, corruption and the siphoning of billions in public resources is critical. But those voices alone will not remove the plague that South Africa has been beset with. We will have to take this fight to the highest office, to the branches of the African National Congress, to the civil service that in part has been corrupted and diverted to serve the criminal activity and beyond to the South African body politic and the very fabric of our constitutional democracy.

We must guard against this tendency, especially as we approach the 2019 national elections and we pin our hopes on alternative voices, whether those voices reside within the African National Congress, the Economic Freedom Fighters or the Democratic Alliance. We must demand more from our political parties, especially in the ascending climate of coalition politics and the possible (and perhaps ongoing) realignment and evolution of our politics.

It will be critical for us to do so and perhaps even more important than what we are being called on to do today, which is to remove Zuma and his ilk from public office. Electoral reform, reforming party-political funding by introducing transparency and control, as well as reviewing the powers that are entrusted to the Executive must be at the forefront of our desire to reclaim or recapture our democracy from the criminal gang that has consumed it.

The road ahead will be perilous and it will require all South Africans, especially younger South Africans, to enter the fray and be willing to confront the imperfections in our democracy. The work that we will need to all participate in will not stop by arresting the decline that we have witnessed under the Zuma years but will require a completely new approach to how best our democracy can serve the citizens of this republic. This process will require our leaders, and the electorate, to confront the excessive power that has been entrusted to our Executive (and in particular the President of the Republic) and how best to return accountability and transparency to our body politic.

This battle will not simply end by reforming the amount of money that flows to our political parties (and their duty to disclose such funding) or by reforming our electoral system but it will be an ongoing fight for what is right. It is a fight that we must all commit to before our democracy is stolen and irreparably damaged. DM

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