They don’t seem to get it. The ANC, that is. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit held recently in Johannesburg that the country’s leaders must fight corruption, greed and selfishness (Business Report, August 31). Emphatic and resounding words for an international audience and media.
To the minister I say that unless you are bold enough to name and shame President Jacob Zuma, still an extant alleged criminal, as the leader of the venal pack to whom he is referring, his words are meaningless and misdirected. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Minister Gordhan also came out strongly in favour of his predecessor’s National Development Plan (NDP), hailing the plan as a clear vision of where South Africa is going. To succeed, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, too, specifically stressed the need for accountable leaders who are capable of implementing the plan. Herein, too, lies a major problem.
I read the section on corruption, chapter 14 of the NDP, “Promoting accountability and fighting corruption”, where it succinctly says that accountable governance requires leadership in the public service and is essential for the NDP to succeed. Leadership that is committed and self-sacrificial, but not self-serving.
The minister said that. He added that overcoming the twin challenges of corruption and lack of accountability in our society required a resilient system consisting of political will, sound institutions, a solid legal foundation and an active citizenry that is empowered to hold public officials accountable.
The mere fact that the National Planning Commission’s conclusion in chapter 14 dwells on good leadership (mentioned five times) tells me that Manuel and his commissioners concede that all is not well with our present leadership.
Yet neither Manuel nor any of his commissioners admit to poor leadership by name but rather what is required for good governance. We already know that. If we had good, pristine leadership, we would have good governance and the concluding remarks in the section on corruption would be unnecessary.
If the NDP is to succeed and if South Africa is to move forward, we need to replace Zuma, who by his buddy system of appointments, will continue to cock a snook at all and sundry, continuing along his merry affable way. Manuel and Gordhan need to spell it out loud and clear rather than skirt the issue. Zuma, together with inappropriate affirmative action, are the prime impediments to good, competent governance.
Unless one names and shames, unless it is spelt out in unambiguous terms, that this country cannot afford a role model such as Zuma, the good work of Manuel and his commissioners will degenerate into an exercise of self-gratification and aggrandisement, with the NDP becoming an unattainable fanciful scheme.
Ordinary citizens like myself, political analysts, newspaper editors and the official opposition all express similar opinions about corruption, as read out by Gordhan at the summit, bearing the same message. But to no avail. Only those in the ANC who remain silent while their president continues to be the main architect of the wretched state we are in can change the direction in which we are heading.
Until we overcome nepotism, corruption, patronage and self-enrichment and move away from cadre deployment, the NDP will not succeed. And Gordhan’s message to South Africans will have no effect whatsoever. Electing Zuma for another term in office will only result in more of the same. That is the reality.
So I say to Gordhan, present ANC MPs and ministers with a conscience: unless you have the courage to stand up and speak out for good values, morals and ethics, now, and not as retirees, as many of your retired colleagues have done and are continuing to do, unless you name and shame, rather than tell us what we already know, there will always be more of the same.
Gordhan refers to corruption as a disease that neither hospital nor health system can solve. Let me say, minister, treat the cause of the disease. Replace Zuma with good, honest, competent leadership and governance. Only then is there hope for cure.
Claremont, Cape Town