Mkhuseli Jack: Too late to rescue SA now

There is no doubt that bold, open and frank voices are starting to be heard, as proof of massive corruption comes to light. As the Jacob Zuma hegemony, and tight control of the ANC and nation is slipping away, a lot of latterday heroes and heroines are standing up.

I am afraid no matter what Cyril Ramaphosa and other hopefuls say, it is too late to rescue us from the mafia state. This crop of leaders cannot be trusted to rescue our country.

Some time ago I wrote about South Africa degenerating into a failed state due to corruption, and Zuma supporters cursed me.

I argued then that at the rate things were going, we were bound to end up being a failed state, characterised by lawlessness, chaos, bankruptcy and a mafia state.

I then pointed out that no economy could withstand the levels of brazen looting that was taking place in the country.

The country was also being milked dry by sheer incompetence that emanated from the appointments of unsuitable people into highly sensitive and strategic areas of the economy.

On top of all this, the country operates with no universally accepted economic policy, by the president at least.

To rub salt into the wounds, the cabinet is oblivious to the bad governance, dishonesty and inefficiencies that are grinding the country to a slow stop.

The ANC national policy conference (NPC) failed to address itself to the issues affecting the country negatively.

Most of the time was wasted discussing the ANC succession preferences.

The whole NPC was about the ANC abdicating its role as “leader of society”.

Its leader has rendered himself blasphemous as he invoked the names of ANC political giants such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani and others.

Sometimes I want to vomit when I hear him talking about the revered ANC leader, O R Tambo.

Our president has definitely turned off the flickering light of hope for many people who face the most uncertain future in this mineral-endowed country of ours.

Justice Malala, writing in this newspaper this week and echoing veteran ANC stalwart Charles Nqakula’s words on the leadership vacuum, lamented the low quality of those who are at the helm of the ANC: “There are many serious people who were at the ANC’s national policy conference last week who will tell you what a disaster the whole thing was” (“Evil flourishes under ANC”, July 10).

Malala laments the fact that the party said nothing concrete about the high levels of unemployment, junk status, recession, racial polarisation, increasing protests and, crucially, a corrupt and incompetent president enthralled with the criminal Gupta mafia family.

He further points out that the party “emerged after six days of talks without a single coherent policy to revive the economy”.

All of this political fiasco is rooted in the casual leadership style of our president.

He has shown no shame or empathy for his personal misdemeanours and the suffering of his people. He has become accustomed to his supporters clapping what he is saying, even if they have not heard what he was saying.

He has become used to not being questioned by his fellow ANC members.

Too many people, particularly those who were involved in the struggle in the dark days, are worried and see themselves back in that era of apartheid rule – a time when our entire country was on the brink of a calamity, where there were to be no winners to inherit a functioning country.

Today, due to political clowning, our nation is facing a situation that will rob coming generations of the assets bequeathed to them by their forefathers.

Prince Mashele and Mzukisi Qobo, in their book, The Fall of the ANC, What Next, diagnose the problem as follows: “There is a rise of transactional leadership on the back of the growing corruption and factionalism within the ANC. “The unseemly bonds between the ruling party and factions of business post-apartheid bear a striking resemblance in our view to the mafia state that evolved in post-communist Russia under Boris Yeltsin.”

These authors list some examples of similarities: “Stark parallels include preferences by the ruling party to acquiescent business elite who are in search of a ticket to prosperity”.

In their argument, they define the transactional leadership as “the relations between the state and business are not based on a shared vision about a better future, but in order to share the spoils of patronage”.

Mashile and Qobo strengthen their argument by quoting another scholar, Willie Esterhuyse, where he cautioned against transactional leadership as follows: “It is self-evident that transactional leadership opens the door to corruption and promotes the possibility of opportunistic compromises”.

Esterhuyse concludes with this chilling statement: “It is transactional leaders that convert fragile states and uncertain democracies into criminal states.”

These authors go on to show how such a government makes itself popular among those who steal on their behalf: “In both countries [SA and Russia] access to the state-sanctioned commercial opportunities is given to a few in exchange for their loyalty to the ruling party.

“Because of their close proximity to the ruling party, these businessmen are expected to overlook institutional failures of the state.”

Our country is at a nasty political crossroad.

The most influential and powerful liberation organisation is in the gripping clutches of a family who invested in the president and his family.

As a result they “own” not only the president of our republic, but are encroaching on all the strategic spheres of our nation state.

People who supported the election of Zuma are currently denouncing him and confessing regret to the entire nation.

I am afraid I do not think the endeavours at the last minute by ANC leaders has anything to do with the salvation of our country, but are about their own personal ambition and welfare. Corruption knows those who speak now, and will continue to wreak havoc with the nation and the lives of our people.

The remorse and honesty of those ANC leaders and members is going to be tested on August 8 during the vote of no confidence against Zuma, whether it’s an open vote or by a secret ballot.

We hope they will heed Tambo’s wise words: “Let’s tell the truth to ourselves even if the truth coincides with what the enemy is saying. Let us tell the truth”.

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