The Zondo Commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture is characterised by long-winded unnecessary opening statements, mostly gobbledygook ramblings, and at times telenovela-like testimonies.
In recent weeks we know from ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony that the party distances itself from those who enabled state capture. Two things stood out, the Damocles’ sword of cadre deployment and the admission (at last) by an ANC leader that there is corruption within the party and some members complicit in corruption.
Fellow Moneyweb scribe Barbara Curson correctly points out, in Ramaphosa – ANC distances itself from those complicit in state capture (April 29), that it cannot be that, based on Ramaphosa’s testimony, South Africans must cheerfully overlook the rot that has taken hold in government and society simply because the country is democratic and the people are enjoying associated freedoms.
Don’t worry. Be happy
There is something unsettling about a leader who thinks one can overlook the bad (state capture and corruption) because, despite the damage, there has been something good in that South Africa is a democratic state that can pride itself on accurate gender representation in boardrooms.
As Curson succinctly states: “State capture has bankrupted South Africa, but we must celebrate the fact that we have gender balance.”
On the question of cadre deployment – well, between Ramaphosa’s views on cadre deployment, Gwede Mantashe’s long-winded often-detouring attempts to explain how the process works, and Lucky Montana’s inferences that cadre deployment became an instrument of nefarious acts and stealing – observers must be wondering what South Africans have done to deserve this kind of leadership.
In true no-honour-among-thieves displays, individuals – whether advertently or inadvertently complicit in corruption, be it in their roles as deployed cadres across SOEs (state-owned entities) or other positions, and those who have endorsed state capture – are now being thrown under the bus.
Change is coming …
Paradoxically, in his testimony Ramaphosa spoke of a party that is undergoing a period of reform.
One cannot help but wonder if this reform means another ‘group’ or faction’s time to eat.
The other and perhaps deeper reason for the claim about reforming the party is the wider gulf between Ramaphosa and his supporters, and those who are:
- Perceived as posing a threat to their rule through their support for suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma, and
- Those who are next in line or possible future party and/or faction leaders.
I am not buying the ‘reforming party narrative’. It is false and misleading because we know from the early years of Zuma’s dominance that the ANC is incapable of self-correcting; nor is it known for punishing wrongdoing.
Instead, as we have seen at the Zondo Commission, the elected leaders of the ANC have never ceased to pour out rhetoric about the credentials for liberation and the relevance of the party in SA.
‘Be grateful’ is a narrative that is forced down the public’s throat to keep the people preoccupied with their fight for freedom and democracy. Here, the liberation rhetoric has become a tool to keep the masses pliant and perpetually grateful for their freedoms.
Nobody has asked, at least not out loud, why Ramaphosa as leader of the ANC feels it is okay to admit that corruption has set in within his beloved movement; that it is okay to have corrupt practices among his comrades; that it is okay to still proclaim that cadre deployment continues.
Is this not a reflection of the arrogance of a party that assumes it will remain in power for a long time; the arrogance of politicians who seem assured that their power is supreme.
The root cause of the ruling party’s arrogance and entitlement is not so much that they want to govern forever, but rather to have the public beholden to them.
Without this token or moniker of the liberation movement, the ANC is nothing if not just another political party that can be voted in and out of power.
This raises the question – would the ordinary voter be equally tolerant of failures, collective and individual corruption, looting, and the bankrupting of government if this was a random party? I think not.
We are tired, gatvol, of listening and watching the grand scale of corruption and stealing playing out, with no alternative or way out as an outcome of the ANC being at crossroads itself.
Susan Sontag, the American writer and activist, considered keeping many positions open – a ruling party, a nation’s leader, a liberation movement – in the hope that one position would correct the other, instead of the vacillation we are witnessing.
It is these positions that have led to the present, because it is not only the ANC that will defend these positions; it is also the individuals and groups within the party that still think there are positions to be defended.
They defend them because they fear that if they don’t the people will see the hollowness and irrelevance of their movement.
The Zondo Commission has revealed that this mess is not going anywhere anytime soon.