EDITORIAL: Corruption goes further than Zuma

It’s been an astonishing few days for South Africa and, in particular, for those who want President Jacob Zuma out of the highest office in the land.

The content of the leaked e-mails which dominated the front pages of the Sunday papers makes chilling reading and more damning information on our silent coup is probably on its way.

The newly released e-mails allegedly detail dealings between the powerful Gupta family and their undue influence not only over Zuma, but also over cabinet ministers, chief executives and board members of parastatals.

The Gupta family lawyer has labelled the material “fake news”, today’s term for propaganda, but their rebuttal may be viewed as such.

Yesterday The Herald columnist Justice Malala wrote that Zuma was a “ruthless, bold, scheming, wily and desperate criminal mind”. However, if you believe these e-mails, then Zuma is not the only criminal mind we should be concerned about.

There is a whole criminal network that relies on double-speak and subterfuge to advance its interests: nothing less than private control of state affairs and resources.

And, when challenged, that network spouts platitudes and enlists Paid Twitter to accuse the accusers of planting fake news, being in the service of white monopoly capital or delaying radical economic transformation.

Many of these mouthings have been pumped out by an expensive public relations firm hired by the Guptas to clean up their image.

As public sentiment increasingly turns against both the Zuma and Gupta families, British firm Bell Pottinger may be ruing the day it signed that contract.

Despite apparently having made millions from the Gupta account, it is learning the truth of the cliche that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

The public is increasingly able to perceive what political insiders have known all along: our government is rotten to the roots.

Unfortunately, it has taken almost a decade of the Zuma administration and in that time corruption has become entrenched.

Even if the head is chopped off, the tentacles of corruption stretch deeply into many – if not most – government departments.

It will take more, much more, than removing Zuma to stop the rot.

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