‘Sponsor-in-chief’ and cronies under repeat attack
Leading businessman Sipho Pityana continued his verbal assault on President Jacob Zuma yesterday‚ saying he should step down. “Sadly‚ like apartheid‚ it’s another South Africanism destined for infamy‚” AngloGold Ashanti chairman Pityana told a mining conference in Johannesburg.
“We have a president who – at best – is missing in action.
“At worst‚ he is a leader at the very root of this crisis‚ one who has abrogated his constitutional duties and faces the threat of hundreds of corruption charges.
“Meanwhile‚ those closest to him appear to be beneficiaries of the disaster in governance and propriety in South Africa that is unfolding.”
Despite a hostile reaction and a warning from Deputy Mineral Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant at the conference‚ Pityana said that Zuma was the “sponsor-in-chief of corruption” and had to go.
Oliphant said he did not want to hear continued criticism of the government without any solutions offered and that a change in the presidency could not be forced.
“If you carry on like that, we will return [it] in kind‚” he warned.
Pityana ignored the warning and, in a blistering address to the audience‚ which gave him a long standing ovation‚ he called on business and broader society to unite in an unambiguous message to the ANC-led government that corruption and decisions made for narrow interests would no longer be tolerated.
“Leaders found guilty of corruption or misrepresentation no longer fall on their swords for the greater good,” he said.
“These days they remain in office‚ inured to the shame of public opprobrium and cheered on by their superiors.
“And why not‚ when we have a president who literally laughs off any suggestion that government be held to a higher standard – and is‚ in fact‚ the sponsor-in-chief of corruption?” Pityana said.
“While business has made some tentative steps towards confronting the threat‚ these are nowhere near clear or insistent enough.”
Pityana said the problem of state capture and corruption often seemed so vast that it was difficult to know what to do about it.
“One strategy is to be co-opted by it,” he said.
That meant actively joining the vested interests that stood to gain from undermining everything that South Africa had stood for when the country queued to cast the first democratic votes in 1994.
“Lord knows, there are many who have placed their narrow self-interest above all else,” Pityana said.
“These are the interest groups that are enabling the creation of a kleptocracy‚ cheerleading for the status quo.
“After all‚ why derail the gravy train while you’re on it?”
Pityana said if there was an assault on the public purse and an attempt to unlock the national Treasury to accelerate patronage to benefit a wellconnected few‚ it was civil society and the business community who must demand better.
“The reality is that a growing number of people and groups in civil society agree that the spigots of corruption have been opened wide‚ and they’re draining the very lifeblood from our economy.
“We can find common cause in the belief that we deserve better leadership than we have at the moment‚ and that we demand clean‚ transparent and accountable government that has the best interests of its citizens at heart.
“We can agree‚ and must agree‚ that under Zuma‚ the government is incapable of genuine reform. And‚ therefore‚ he must go.”
Business Leadership South Africa chairman Bobby Godsell said he agreed with Pityana, adding that it was an incredibly difficult time to be a South African citizen and patriot.
Godsell also said the mining industry must acknowledge its past and accept it had made mistakes over the last 20 years.
On questionable practices in the industry, Godsell said there were often cases of patronage where hostels were being outsourced‚ union leaders were put on hostel committees and there was a pact of corruption for which management was responsible.