Dr Pali Lehohla is the former statistician-general of South Africa and former head of Statistics SA. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
Dr Pali Lehohla is the former statistician-general of South Africa and former head of Statistics SA. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Farewell to a committed civil servant who served with distinction

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 24, 2020

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The passing of Auditor General Kimi Makwetu is a race won by one who was not about to decelerate as he headed towards the finish line.

Makwetu was full throttle when the inevitable visited him. I once wrote that Makwetu served his country well.

He gave corruption a name - corruption. He responded by conveying his gratitude for the words of support and encouragement.

He said we will certainly reconnect in the field as we pursue the constitutional goals of transparency and accountability in whatever station we move to. Take care and kind regards.

To step up on the promise, my colleagues, planning to host 25 years of local government practice jointly with Salga, asked me to invite him. And I did.

He responded thus like an athlete accelerating past the finish line He said on the day we are releasing the second Covid Special report, it would be days before he stepped down.

He said: “It would, therefore, not be suitable for me in light of the stakeholder engagements already scheduled.”

I appreciated his response and thus told him that, as he was, we shall certainly lean on you in the future. This was the last conversation I had with a committed civil servant.

He made it his duty to make governance visible and translated it in the forgone services which our greedfilled public representatives, civil service and private sector decided to deliver with impunity to citizens and generations to come.

When he proposed amendments to the Audit Act to prosecute, I called him, and argued that while I understood the impatience and frustration he had with imbecile leadership failing to take action, I took that as overreach.

I charged that what would the executive be for, what will the legislature be for if the auditor-general now becomes the lead witness, the prosecutor, the judge and the prison warder?

Perhaps I missed one point. Makwetu understood the depth of the rot, better summed up by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo when he asked among them, the “Fat Cakes” submission – “Was there no head of department, no minister, nor no president to stop the rot?”

Makwetu has given us the law to execute his race with even greater pace and meet the constitutional imperatives of a democratic and prosperous South Africa. May his soul rest in peace

Dr Pali Lehohla is the former statistician-general of South Africa and former head of Statistics SA

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