Award-winning columnist says our elected governors are nothing but a network of the corrupters and their corruptees whose only object in life is to acquire personal wealth by repurposing the SA state for their nefarious ends.
Mr President, His Excellency Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, instead of the mind-numbing annual ritual known as the State of the Nation Address (Sona) that you delivered yesterday, SA requires the State of the Looting Annual Barometer. We need to know, as taxpayers, who steals from the public purse (name, surname and ID number), with whom (high-ranking politicians) and how much. We need to know from which bank account (banking institution), and how much has been recovered, and most importantly, when are the thieves going to exchange their Gucci suits for prison garb — the famous orange overalls? In your recent instalment of the letter “From the desk of the president”, you, Mr President, admitted that, “as a country that has become far too used to hearing stories about corruption, little could have prepared us for seeing, in detail, the lengths to which some among our people have gone to steal at a time when our nation is facing the worst health emergency in modern times”.
This head of state’s admission is cold comfort to those battling the effects of corruption. To illustrate the extent of the rot, according to data received from national Treasury, R30,7 billion was spent by state institutions on personal protective equipment (PPE) between April and November 2020, of which more than R13 billion is subject to Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation. These thugs in suits, instead of supplying the required PPEs, repurposed the need for medical supplies and rebranded it as Personal Profit Enterprise. The SIU head, Andy Mothibi, said that “the flagrant and wanton disregard for law, policies and procedures is underpinned by the insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment”. Mothibi noted that “political pressure played a role in the procurement of PPE in certain cases”.
Mr President, the conclusion drawn from the SIU report demonstrates that we have gone beyond the precipice as a country. As a result, you, Mr President, must concede that South Africa is now a cesspool of looters and their accomplices.
Our governors are nothing but a network of the corrupters and their corruptees. Their object in life is to acquire personal wealth by any means necessary. These aren’t petty gangsters who became our governors by stealing elective positions, they govern us as per our will. We are complicit in the grand theft of our children’s inheritance. As soon as they assume office, they monetise their posts by redirecting public funds to their friends’ and family’s coffers. The corrupters and corruptees are nothing but the financial harlots of the post-apartheid era. The first (a corruptee) abuses their entrusted public power for private gain. The second (a corrupter) benefits from that abuse of power. Both of them continue to roam the streets and boast of their unearned riches. All of these; the corruption-inclined holders of public office and their accomplices, as well as their victims, are as ANC as you and I.
To paraphrase former president Thabo Mbeki: “The thieves and their accomplices, the givers of the bribes and the recipients, are as African as you and I.” In short, we are the corrupter and the harlot who act together to steal from our people (the sick and indigent) and ourselves.
Mr President, the state has long been repurposed to fund the lifestyles of the politically active, the politically connected and the politically influential and rent-seekers. The law-enforcement agencies are only capable of policing the politically inactive (enforcing alcohol prohibition, enforcing the wearing of masks in public) and dealing with naïve thugs such as car hijackers and others unimaginative hoodlums. If car hijackers and the cash-in-transit gangs knew the ease with which you can become a millionaire by looting the public purse, they would have long diversified their portfolio.
The reality is that it is far easier to redirect the budgets of government institutions than say, hijack a Polo. The former is less risky, more lucrative and faster. The higher you are up the political value chain, the higher you rank in the criminal underworld. Thus you’re guaranteed protection from the law-enforcement agencies, including prosecution authorities. This explains the foot-dragging in dealing with your spokesperson Khusela Diko and her entanglement in the PPE mess. She should have been hung out to dry a long time ago.
The fact that she still draws a salary from the public purse is further evidence that corruption in SA pays, not once but twice. Till next week my man. “Don’t send me anywhere. I quit.”
This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube a former senior Witness political journalist, the 2020 regional winner in the Opinion category of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award, and author of The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy, a memoir. This opinion piece was first published in the Witness (News24).