Naught for your comfort as they loot the beloved country - Business Day 24 March 2014

How the African National Congress (ANC) handles Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Secure in Comfort report into the Nkandla affair is likely to confirm beyond reasonable doubt one of the key differences between financial corruption under National Party (NP) and corruption under ANC rule.

Monday  24 March 2014

Naught for your comfort as they loot the beloved country

By John Kane-Berman

 

How the African National Congress (ANC) handles Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Secure in Comfort report into the Nkandla affair is likely to confirm beyond reasonable doubt one of the key differences between financial corruption under National Party (NP) and corruption under ANC rule. Nat financial corruption was incidental. ANC financial corruption is systemic.

 

No reckoning of the ANC's achievements since it came to power is complete without taking this into account. If Alan Paton were alive today he could write a book entitled Loot the Beloved Country. 

 

A significant number of so-called "service delivery" protests are actually against corrupt local councillors and officials. The involvement of the president and senior ministers in Nkandlagate tells us that corruption characterises the party from functionaries in small local councils to the bosses at the very top.

 

In between is Parliament, as we know not only from the Travelgate scandal but also from its handling thereof. Nor should we forget the role of top parliamentary officials in blocking effective investigation of the arms deal, which was concluded before President Jacob Zuma came to power. Ms Madonsela indeed is a welcome change from previous public officials who helped whitewash a report into the arms deal which was doctored by the Cabinet.

 

Only the most naïve now expect the truth about the arms deal to be uncovered. So also, judging from the reaction of many commentators and politicians, only the most naïve expect anyone other than a few scapegoats to pay the price of Nkandla.

 

The thing about corruption under the ANC is that it has become routine. The finance minister can talk until he is blue in the face about cutting down wasteful state expenditure, but this does not stop his colleagues from placing advertisements funded by taxpayers into virtually every issue of The New Age.

 

It is also brazen. Dubious characters elected some years ago to top positions in the ANC, or more recently nominated to its election lists, suggest that the party does not care what anybody thinks about malfeasance or worse. The so-called Progressive Business Forum, which sells the time of cabinet ministers to raise money for the ANC, confirms the brazenness. It also confirms that business plays a part in the perpetuation of unethical practice.

 

These examples also tell us that malpractice ranges not only from top to bottom, from Luthuli House, to Chancellor House, to Nkandla, to the Union Buildings, to Parliament, but also from the relatively trivial to the megabuck scale.

 

Curiously, some people, among them people who would never vote for the ANC, tacitly condone its corruption. They do this every time they say, "Well, the Nats were just as bad". Apart from being no excuse, this is untrue.

 

Apartheid was so morally depraved that it was eventually repudiated by the very Church which had mined the Bible for reasons to defend it. There was plenty of malfeasance with tenders, including switching banking and insurance contracts from English-speaking to Afrikaans business. Ministers profited from advance information about expropriations under the Group Areas Act. Other land deals also made ministers and their friends rich. Half the Cabinet sat on the board of a company to whom they swung government printing contracts.   

 

But financial corruption was on a much smaller scale than now. The biggest example of such corruption under the NP was the so-called Information scandal, the major component of which was the secret funding of The Citizen. In the end this destroyed the career of the mighty John Vorster. The fact that it was the Press that exposed the Information scandal puts paid to another argument put forward by apologists - that there was massive corruption under the Nats but the Press could not report it. 

 

The biggest difference between then and now is that in the end the Nats had a sense of shame. ANC corruption is shameless.  

 

 

 

* Kane-Berman is a consultant at the South African Institute of Race Relations 

© 2018 South African Institute of Race Relations
CMS Website by Juizi

Copyright | Accuracy Guarantee | Sponsors & Donors