As we await the words of our first citizen …

What we really want is action and accountability – an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Fynbos may be able to burn and grow afresh, but lives and the economy need to be protected. Image: Shutterstock

Dear Mr President, in your State of the Nation (Sona) address last year you spoke of fynbos and specifically of the Protea flower, and its resilience. And that “every 20 years, fynbos must burn at extremely high temperatures to allow the ecosystem to be rejuvenated and grow afresh”.

But Mr President, the Protea does not have blood coursing through its veins, nor does it have a soul. It does not have to feed a family. And it can be burnt to ashes and rise again.

The fires sparked by matches and a small supply of paraffin have the capacity to destroy fauna and flora, homes and infrastructure.

The July 2021 looting, insurrection and terrorism caused untold damage to property, lives and the psyche of your people.

Your security services failed to protect life, limb and property. There was discord between the minister of police and the minister of state security. Communities were forced to protect their families and businesses in their areas. This led to unfortunate vigilantism. The physical damage of R50 billion does not cover the loss of lives, livelihoods and small businesses that were not insured.

Sporadic fires have been raging for months, a mountainside here, a building there.

Mr President, even parliament burnt.

Criminals, emboldened by the lack of accountability, will rise from these ashes.

It does not make sense to be scared of a virus, to impose the wearing of masks, and to use the police and the army to enforce the state of disaster yet allow armed criminals to run rampant.

You spoke of the flames of injustice, that “they will not consume us”.

But your people are being consumed by desperate poverty, ANC infighting, corruption within government, the mismanagement and corruption in state-owned entities (SOEs), the PPE fraud, the injustice meted out to those who lost their jobs and businesses because of the hard lockdown that was imposed, and the injustice to those who have been subjected to medical malpractice in state hospitals (according to the Auditor-General, the estimated settlement value of unpaid medical malpractice claims at year-end was R124.15 billion).

Last year you promised the country:

  • A massive rollout of infrastructure throughout the country,
  • A massive increase in local production,
  • An employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods, and
  • The rapid expansion of our energy generation capacity.

Mr President, will you be providing an update?

‘And finally, we must fight corruption and strengthen the State’

A year ago you delivered that statement with force and conviction, Mr President.

The Zondo Commission has now issued two reports amounting to nearly 1 600 pages, detailing the racketeering, corruption, money laundering and theft that took place at, among others, SAA, Eskom and Transnet. The final report will be handed down soon. But the National Prosecuting Authority has the evidence.

The Special Investigating Unit reports on the Investigation of the National Department of Health/Digital Vibes contracts and the “Investigation into the procurement of, or contracting for goods, works and services, including the construction, refurbishment, leasing, occupation and use of immovable property, during, or in respect of the National State of Disaster … by or on behalf of the State Institutions” have been released.

Not many have been held to account.

Is anyone in jail?

Whistleblowers have been murdered or have had to flee the country. Those who remain here are forced to look over their shoulders, every day of their lives. The government has not protected them.

The shambolic financial status of SOEs

Many of your state-owned entities thumb their noses at the Public Finance Management Act, do not hand their financial statements in for auditing on time, hand in badly prepared financial statements, incur procurement irregularities, cannot account for assets, do not have evidence of expenditure, and/or incur billions in irregular expenditure and hundreds of millions of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

At a recent panel discussion hosted by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) and the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), Mkhuleko Hlengwa, chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), spoke of the lack of consequence management, actions taken against responsible officials, and the absence of political will. He said that whereas Scopa submits reports to the president, these do not get addressed. He cautioned that this laissez-faire attitude towards consequence management emboldens the enablers of corruption.

It should not be necessary for a parliamentary committee to clean up the SOEs.

If the government appointed an appropriate person to represent it as shareholder, and a capable board of directors, who could rely on properly appointed management with the requisite skills, the SOEs would not be floundering.

But then, the SOEs have already been hollowed out by corrupt cadres who destroyed the careers of capable professionals in their quest for personal enrichment and in support of the Gupta racketeering enterprise.

Citizens want to see action, accountability, and the protection of lives, the economy, and the vulnerable.

The rage burning within your people will not be sated by allegorical prose or empty promises, nor will mouths be fed.

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COMMENTS   3

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Spot on, Barbara. Right on the money.

But I am not holding my breath.

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.

W Churchill

Another brilliant commentary on the real state of our nation by this journalist – thank you.
– until racist BEE policies are stopped, nothing will change
– until there is real investment in education and birth control, nothing will change
– until those politically connected thieves are convicted nothing will change
– until the taxpayer – Personal AND Corporate – says “enough,” nothing will change
– until dignity is reestablished in vulnerable communities, nothing will change
Most South Africans living here want South Africa to work. This is our home. It should be a safe and happy place for all its citizens. This will not happen until everyone believes it’s leaders have their best interests at heart and actually show that they do – actions speak louder than words. Act now before it really is too late. For us all.

End of comments.

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