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The corruption pandemic in South Africa is killing off our State institutions

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Dr Thozamile Botha is Research Associate, Department of Sociology, University of Johannesburg.

The post-1994 South African democratic State, which had emerged as a hope of a new dawn, has turned out to be a disappointment to many African civil society institutions and peoples of the continent.

This country of ours has gone through the worst of times in the past, we have gone through both physical and psychological trauma — but this is not the time to give in. Let us save our country as a united nation regardless of the colour of our skin and our political differences. It may look like life is coming to an end for many of us, but what keeps some of us going is putting our sights beyond the horizon.

Notwithstanding the history of repression of black people by the white population, the spirit of forgiveness engendered by former President Nelson Mandela has to be invoked and must guide us during this difficult time.

It is about time we created a common history that we can all proudly claim. A history of being South Africans first before our racial or ethnic affiliations, on this continent, like Americans from different nationalities, different races and cultures.

I know that we the black African people were the common enemy of both the English and the Afrikaners, but we now share common cultural symbols, our flag and our national anthem bound together by our sovereign State as defined in our 1996 Constitution.

This is what compels all of us to bury our narrow political, racial, cultural and ethnic differences to unite as a proud nation determined to build our country to secure our children’s and grandchildren’s future.

Regardless of our colonial past, let us all be magnanimous enough to acknowledge one another’s contribution to the building of this, our beautiful country. The Africans, Afrikaners, English, Jews, Coloureds, Indians and all our diverse national groups have played a significant role in the building of this country.

When the Covid-19 virus chased us out of the streets of our cities and malls and from the countryside, our only place of refuge was what we call home. Our first home was and still is South Africa. Our second home is where we share common space with our families. During the state of disaster, South Africans from all walks of life, rich and poor, black and white were called upon to stay at home.

However, we all knew that for many of the urban poor, especially black people — some of whom lived in shacks and on the streets — there was no real place called “home”. They relied on the goodwill of their fellow South Africans and on faith that God would save their lives. The moral and spiritual support of the community is what sustained them.

It is this tenacity and enduring hope for a better tomorrow that keeps many people going. Even without shelter and without food, they still have hope for a better tomorrow.

This includes those across the colour divide, cultural differences, and religious beliefs who sleep on the streets and survive by begging. The coronavirus was a reminder to all of us that in the final analysis, we are all equal, we need one another as fellow South Africans. As someone put it, the coronavirus was an equaliser.

After the pandemic, we had to rebuild our country together from the ruins of the coronavirus and the junk status to which we were downgraded. We need one another’s financial and intellectual capital to rebuild this economy.

The incurable corruption pandemic in South Africa

When the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, and continued to spread throughout the world, it helped to rally the world to unite to find a cure to stop its spread.

In contrast, the corruption pandemic which has its roots in the 1885 Berlin Conference, continues to spread like wildfire in the African continent in the post-colonial era. Its point of entry is the political elite of post-colonial states, including post-apartheid South Africa.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Corruption is South Africa’s primary and most pressing election issue

The post-1994 South African democratic State, which had emerged as a hope of a new dawn, has turned out to be a disappointment to many African civil society institutions and peoples of the continent.

The obituaries of Atate institutions like Eskom and Prasa have been written and are waiting to be read out, while some — like South African Airways —A have already had their funeral policies paid out and they are only waiting for their bodies to be cremated.

But the painful truth is that there are no credible speakers left to read the obituaries at their funerals. DM

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