Skip to content

Lip service … stop talking, start doing!


Lip service … stop talking, start doing!

GATVOL. That is what South Africans are feeling.

GATVOL about the staggering amounts of taxpayers’ money that the Guptas and their cronies stole during the nine ‘state capture’ years, with the full knowledge and cooperation of former president, Jacob Zuma.

GATVOL that the crime of the century took place under the noses of the deputy president at the time (Cyril Ramaphosa) and the entire Cabinet, most of whom were miraculously oblivious that billions of rands were disappearing to cover exorbitantly priced goods and services, bribes, kickbacks, payments to phantom suppliers, gifts for loyal friends, and personal gratuities and indulgences.

GATVOL that all this was happening against a backdrop of record-high unemployment, grinding poverty, increasing urban squalor, collapsing infrastructure and an investment community that had largely gone AWOL.

And GATVOL that the miscreants responsible for dragging the country to the proverbial abyss are still out there, revelling (no doubt) in the knowledge that, because they belong to a political mafia (who all have lots of dirt on each other), they are practically untouchable. The NPA and Hawks recently announced that they would arrest the architects of state capture by the end of September. The prospect of political interference, however, looms large. We need to press – and pray – for a successful outcome.

Looking at the numbers

South Africa lost a reported R50 billion to state capture. The Commission investigated several government entities, including the SABC, SAA, Denel, Transnet and Eskom, with the three main beneficiaries being Transnet (to the tune of about R40 billion), Eskom (about R4.5 billion) and the Free State government (about R400 million).

To put the R50 billion into perspective, if an RDP house on a small stand costs R100 000, then 500 000 RDP houses could have been built with the stolen money. Think how the money could have helped to overhaul some of the country’s decaying infrastructure, invest in renewable energy, build decent schools. The list goes on. But the R50 billion is a drop in the ocean compared to the R1.5 trillion that the government has probably stolen or squandered over the years – which is painfully evident in the dire state of most public infrastructure and institutions.

Now what?

The final Zondo Commission report was the culmination of 429 days of televised hearings, with 300 witnesses providing testimonies, over a three-year period. The report did not (because it could not) order that anyone be prosecuted, but it did recommend that charges be filed against relevant parties. So, what happens now?

What should NOT happen is more talking and consulting. The thoroughness of the investigation is surely enough to start charging perpetrators and sending them off to jail – real jail, that is, and not a leisurely stay in a hospital ward or play-play house arrest next to a golf course.

It is unlikely, though, that the government will swing into action. They may pick a few scapegoats and incarcerate them for a while, but it seems doubtful that the megastars (Guptas included) will face the music. Even Ramaphosa, the master of the sidestep, praised the Commission report for its insights into how NOT to do things in the future – as if he were asking us to draw a line in the sand and look forward to a fresh start tomorrow, with the past forgiven and forgotten.

Enough is enough

‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!’ shouted Howard Beale, a news presenter in the 1976 move, Network. We are mad. But as citizens of a country with immense potential, we have to do things differently – by being more vigilant, vocal and proactive.

In a nutshell, the time has come to:

  1. Change the government by changing the government. Vote intelligently.
  2. Get involved and help find solutions. Don’t hold your breath that the government (at least the current one) will change its ways.
  3. Don’t use the word ‘challenge’ when you mean catastrophe. ‘Challenge’ is a weak, disembodied term used to describe the messes that the country is in without pointing fingers at anyone in particular.
  4. Be vocal (to all within earshot) about the dire consequences of incompetence, waste, theft, and no law and order. It boils down to economics, not politics.
  5. Teach everyone you deal with to be accountable. If enough people get into the habit, it will spread.

We can no longer pay lip service. It’s time to take the country back and make sure it doesn’t slip through our fingers again.