Corruption South Africa: Rampant and Unabated

“State capture possibly cost the country more than R500 billion…” President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to have told a gathering of international investors, in 2019. (Fin24: 14.10.19)

During that gathering, and even before that, Ramaphosa – through his well calculated and orchestrated campaign termed “Thuma Mina” or send me, promised and declared that his was a new broom. A “New Dawn” that would work to restore the battered and bruised confidence and low morale of South Africans –who were tired of the escalating unemployment rate, a very weak economy, the devastatingly high rate of crime and violence (that was likened to a war zone/war ravaged country), poor service delivery, high inequality, poor public healthcare and transportation, the unabated corruption and so on – that had become commonplace in the country.

During this period of “New Dawn” or “Ramaphoria”, we heard of Jacob Zuma’s “9 wasted years” – in reference to the impact of former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure in office. Much was said and continues to be said about the mess, disaster and ‘state capture’ that happened during Zuma’s Presidency, and while Ramaphosa branded himself as the new broom, that would sweep clean, fight and end corruption, and reinvigorate South Africa’s dwindling reputational and economic fortunes, he made little mention of his and his party’s (The ANC) complicity – for during those “wasted years”, we were constantly told that the government and the ANC took “collective responsibility.” So why blame the decay on one individual, when the whole ANC was part and parcel – and did nothing to stop the rot? In fact, members of the ANC were and continue to be implicated in corruption and state capture allegations.

Ramaphosa promised and assured South Africans that action would be taken against those implicated in corrupt activities, and that those who looted public funds would answer and be dealt with. To date, none of this has happened. It is business as usual. Many of those implicated have either been deployed to other departments/posts or continue merrily to live off their ill-gotten gains. And even tough a commission of inquiry into state capture was set up –over a year and a few months later, no one has been held accountable. No one has been charged or prosecuted. No measures taken.

We have state owned enterprises (SOE) that have been plundered and mismanaged to the brink of collapse. And with each year, SAA; Eskom; SABC and many others, receive billions upon billions in bailouts and nothing changes. The mismanagement, incompetence, looting and cadre deployment continues. So many of our public institutions have been corrupted. Public and private corruption has taken hold, so much so, that when it is reported in the news nowadays, many South Africans do not bat an eyelid anymore.

Sadly, corruption has become such a part of South African life, that , even during the ongoing national lockdown (due to the Covid-19 pandemic), there have been numerous reports of politically connected individuals including ANC members and councillors allegedly stealing, looting or selling food parcels meant for the poor and  vulnerable. And yet again, no consequences, charges or accountability. Simply business as usual. Right now, our law enforcement and prosecutorial institutions are considered toothless and unactionable.

So as an ordinary South African, how can you not be despondent, frustrated, angry, disillusioned or apathetic? How can you not want change and better? How can you be happy and comfortable with the continued decay and rampant corruption?

As things stand, we are yet to know the real extent and cost of the years of public funds and state capture looting. But we do know that so much could have been done with that money. The fixing of poor public health, schools and transport facilities, dealing with the ticking unemployment time bomb and many other service delivery challenges, and so on.

How can we still hope that the ANC led government – that was implicated in many corruption related scandals (including state capture) can mitigate, fight and end corruption?!

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