Declining public service and this week’s announcement of South Africa’s tailspin into recession can be blamed on government’s lack of honesty‚ accountability and state capture.
The emergence of damning information from a tranche of leaked emails belonging to the controversial Gupta family should have South Africans demanding the dismissal of politicians and the institution of criminal investigations‚ say governance experts.
Public pressure is now mounting on government as thousands more emails about alleged state capture continue to be uncovered.
Richard Calland‚ head of University of Cape Town’s governance and rights unit‚ said there was every reason for all South Africans to be concerned.
“It has adverse consequences on the economy.”
Highlighting this week’s recession announcement‚ Calland said it was clear that the economic downturn over the past year had‚ to a large extent‚ been due to the fact that confidence in the accountability and honesty of the government had declined rapidly‚ “as more and more information on state capture emerges”.
State capture‚ he said‚ had profound consequences for the average person on the street.
“It steers public monies‚ which could be used for social and redistribution of wealth programmes‚ towards the pockets of a small number of people‚ who in the process‚ conspire with those in fiducial relationships with the voters and boards of State Owed Entities.”
He said the question now was whether other bits of the democratic governance system‚ which have not been captured‚ could remain sufficiently insulated to carry out the necessary investigations‚ and if necessary‚ prosecutions of those who have committed felonies and so brazenly distorted the democratic process and captured the democratic state.
“State capture undermines investor confidence. Investors want to see a state that is capable and honest and does what it says it will do with government programmes delivering to the poor. They want to see South Africa’s economy not only grow and be well led‚ but also become socially and economically stable.
“If they see a government no longer capable of delivering on its programmes‚ because it has been captured by nefarious interests and a shadow state‚ they are less likely to invest.”
Paul Hoffman of the Institute of Accountability‚ said South Africans needed to be concerned by state capture which debased the Constitution and destroyed the fabric of society‚ including law and order.
“This silent coup hits directly at the poor by diverting money away from social delivery programmes designed to uplift and promote human rights‚ and concentrates power in the hands of those who operate this shadow state.”
He said evidence of the effect of state capture was evident by the number of South Africans living in poverty.
“More than half of those in South Africa live in poverty. Human rights is not an airy-fairy concept. They are important to ensure that all our people have access to food‚ clean water‚ education‚ healthcare and housing.
“This is precisely what is compromised when you take the wealth of a nation and divert it into a slow horse‚ fast cars‚ loose living and Dubai. By doing this you make it difficult to develop a state and push it closer to a failed state.”
He said South Africans needed to‚ within the bounds of the law‚ make their voices heard and protest without delay.
“Yes‚ voting is important‚ but that only happens every five years. Exacting accountability from those in power must happen everyday through our Chapter 9 institutions‚ which can be approached free of charge.
“Those who must turn to these institutions is every citizen‚ including the poor and disenfranchised. For too long South Africans default position has been to remain passive subjects as we did under apartheid.”
He said what was needed was active citizenry‚ “who take to the streets ad call for accountability‚ because if we continue to remain silent state capture will destroy us”.