At the heart of South Africa’s trajectory towards the failure and collapse of the state is the delusional arrogance that accompanies the trappings of power. This arrogance has seen the ruling elite drift further and further away from the principles of reality, honesty and accountability.
They myopically take for granted their soft lives, away from the representations of the daily societal realities of the destitute majority. It is in that moment, when they are immersed in their delusions of grandeur, that socioeconomic inequalities and a trust deficit find traction.
Simply put, the ruling party elite is out of touch with the actual realities of the majority.
The release of part one of the report by the Zondo Commission was bound to set the cat among the pigeons. Those who are implicated directly and indirectly have already started to engineer all manner of spin and obfuscation in their misinterpretations of the report. Some opined authoritatively on the report without even bothering to read all 874 pages.
Like politics or journalism, justice is ideological, therefore, facts notwithstanding, both subjective and objective, any interpretation of the report is dependent on one’s vantage point and politics.
While differences exist, the one indisputable conclusion is that there is consensus, anchored in the words of Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that “something is rotten in the state of (South Africa)”.
If one is truly honest, it is this acknowledgment of rot that must be the basis for turning things around. Tragically, it appears that South Africa is far from this reality of the existence of rot because of the ruling party’s elite group and its “party first and the country later” mentality.
The ruling elite appears hell-bent on watering down the realities of State Capture and the associated consequences. This reckless and irresponsible reductionism of facts and realities came to the fore recently when the national chairperson of the ruling party, Gwede Mantashe, dared to refer to the actions of State Capture as “mistakes”.
One is compelled to remind the nation that, like cheating, State Capture and the many corrupt activities that enabled it, comprised a series of thuggish actions, not mistakes.
These were the actions that Mantashe and the ruling party elite were hellbent on defending and protecting. Each time these thuggish actions were questioned in Parliament and elsewhere, we were strongly shot down.
State Capture became a decision of the ANC the moment its leadership and rank and file chose to defend it. It became a deliberate course of action.
As a nation, we must not be swayed by platitudes and cheap political spin which seeks to dismiss the gravity of State Capture as a “mistake”. Simply put, State Capture is not a political ANC problem. It is a problem for South Africa, caused by the ANC and its elite group.
State Capture and poor governance have irrevocably damaged our country. The trail of destruction deepened mass poverty, underdevelopment, inequality and unemployment. To remove the rot, we must prosecute and instil consequence management in line with the laws of this country.
What we need is not a political discussion but law enforcement. There could never be an excuse for less, as we now have clear evidence before us, gathered by a team of experts, laying bare the plundering of hundreds of billions of rands.
It is precisely for this reason that the Zondo Report must be used for the renewal, revival, and strengthening of the country and its institutions.
With all due respect, Mr Mantashe is suspiciously disingenuous to call for the Zondo Report to be used for the renewal of the ANC, and for the report to be “dealt with institutionally”.
The Zondo Commission was not an ANC mandate or ANC-funded endeavour. The taxpayer footed a hefty bill for the report to come to life. Reducing it to a mere tool to assist the ailing ANC to self-correct is an insult to those whose lives have been robbed by the criminals in the black, green and gold T-shirts.
The ruling party might hold the majority in Parliament, but it needs to be reminded of the dividing line between party and state. Its internal processes cannot – and must not – take precedence over state and law enforcement processes.
Mr Mantashe’s outlook, consistent with the “party first” mentality, seeks to water down the extent and impact of the damage caused by the capture of state on South Africans. It presupposes that a renewed and healthy ANC means a renewed and healthy South Africa.
This belief is devoid of truth and reality, and this was reflected in the recent 2021 November polls. South Africans showed us the kind of renewal and health of South Africa they need when they did not vote for the ANC.
Worth noting is that the ANC mentality of “collective responsibility” is precisely why this country is in a state of chaos. It creates a defence laager along party lines, at the expense of the national interest. As politicians, it is the interests of the people that must always be our guiding light – not the interests of the party.
The response of the ruling party’s chairperson to the Zondo Commission clearly indicates that the ANC has failed the test of constitutionalism, democracy and patriotism. Its default position of defending its criminal members is full of thuggish excuses to evade accountability, while continuing to steal from our people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, the report was handed over to you in your capacity as head of state, not the head of the ANC, and accordingly, we, the people of South Africa, demand that those implicated face the full might of the law.
We demand that if you as the President are also implicated, you too lead by example, and face the might of the law.
We demand accountability from those who have stolen the precious resources meant for the people of South Africa. The people of South Africa demand that the recommendations in the report be actioned and actioned swiftly.
The announcements by the National Prosecuting Authority on mechanisms to be set up to process the report must be implemented without delay.
Mr President, it is now up to you to prove to the people who placed their trust in you to serve the interests of the country – and not your party – that they did not make a mistake. DM