Letter: Trust disappeared from SA politics

Current state of governance

Integrity includes, but goes a long way beyond honesty.

Honesty is about telling the truth, conforming one’s words to reality.

Integrity is then conforming reality to our words – importantly keeping promises and fulfilling expectations!

Tragically trust has evaporated from the South African landscape.

When correct principles are valued, one has truth!

The more closely policy and our political leadership is aligned with these principles or natural laws, the more accurate and functional they will be.

It is in these areas that both the apartheid regime and the ANC government were/are deeply conflicted.

Part of the answer to the present crises is for a more strident commitment to political and economic equality – the democratic imperative – which the constitution embraces.

It is nonsense to argue that the constitution in its present form frustrates economic transformation, care for the disadvantaged and poor, and meaningful land redistribution, or stops the country from honouring its international commitments.

Based on the behaviour of the Jacob Zuma administration, I detect a deliberate drift away from democratic principles.

Nelson Mandela understood that the gift of freedom was not to be confused with a right, permission or authority to do as he wished, and ethically principled took on the role of servant of the nation.

After Mandela, because of weak leadership, factionalism within the ANC manifested itself.

Compounded by an abuse of power, incompetence and patronage at ministerial and administrative levels, both the Thabo Mbeki and Zuma administrations have been plagued by crises and service delivery protests and inevitably the race card has been dealt with monotony.

“White monopoly capital” is now to blame for all ills.

It cannot be normal for any administration to:

Allow an “independent” prosecuting authority to “sit on its hands” knowing that a court has ruled that an earlier incumbent of the office of the National Prosecuting Authority acted irrationally when he decided to drop fraud and corruption charges brought against Zuma;

Be proposing a Robert Mugabe-type policy of “land grab” when the constitution provides for land redistribution. Under Zuma, the Recapitalisation and Development Programme facilitates the payment of large amounts of money to individuals and companies, but who now remain tenants of state property – creeping nationalisation of land and another vehicle for patronage?

Callously move hundreds of psychiatric patients out of operationally approved institutions into inadequate, dubious frail care facilities that should never have been allowed to operate. There will be another enquiry, but there is no need for another whitewash.

Zuma and the health minister are complicit: they appointed the incompetent officials who made these irrational decisions;

Have ministers lying to parliament and retaining their jobs is unacceptable, as has happened with the social grants payments debacle. This matter manifests all that is wrong in the ANC: woeful leadership, obfuscation, parlous state of our political health and lack of oversight/accountability, and is another assault on democracy;

Have cadre appointees, who have committed all manner of felonies and lose their jobs, return to equally responsible assignments;

Deliberately preside over an economy offering the prospect of no or low growth, because of conflicted policies, when in fact job creation and greater prosperity is possible;

Arrogantly pretend that the processes the ANC is following to determine the country’s next president should not be of interest to all South Africans. Why should they not be concerned, when the suspicion is the these processes are about a continuum of interest in state affairs for Zuma that will keep him out of prison and give the all-clear for abhorrent policies of patronage and allied corruption to carry on unchecked?

Propose the Treasury be reduced to that of the “state bookkeeper”, which would be the outcome if the budget is moved to the Presidency – it would be akin to handing the state cheque book over to Zuma;

Waste tax revenue on unauthorised irregular expenditure in most departments and certainly on out of control loss-making SEOs, a bloated cabinet, unwieldy structures, too much consultancy and personnel incompetence;

Continue to stifle per capita income growth (destroying wealth), which in recent years has been negative, that in the face of 30% of the population being unemployed is a travesty.

A national dialogue is now an imperative to initiate a broad shift in policy.

The ANC can no longer behave as though it is the trustee of the future. Its thinking is short term, about the retention of power, control of the purse strings and for a compliant national consciousness to be instilled, which makes it permissible for the ANC government to spend money today which it pretends is for the benefit of grandchildren yet unborn, but is reality to boost a standard of living for a few today.

This, for example, is exactly what the armaments deal achieved and now what the nuclear project will do.

The ANC behaves democratically only when it suits and not very often these days. The “processes” that resulted in Brian Molefe becoming a member of parliament were far from being democratic.

We, and especially politicians, need to return to common decency and so restore trust, if only because it should make us ache to be worthy of it!

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