Opinion / 22 December 2019, 2:07pm / Dennis Pather
Wall, Christmas is upon us, and I’m wondering what is the best gift President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government can give South Africans?
A tax cut perhaps? Hardly likely when we’re only a hair’s breadth away from a recession.
An end to load shedding? Now that’s a real light bulb idea unless some sabotaging Grinch decides to spoil Christmas by tampering with the electrical network infrastructure at Eskom.
No, my guess is the best Christmas gift for South Africans would be to see the Gupta brothers being brought back from the United Arab Emirates in balls and chains.
The possibility of this happening was raised this week when a high-powered delegation of Cabinet ministers and law enforcement officials jetted off to Abu Dhabi to try to persuade the UAE government to hand the glutinous Guptas back to us.
Can you imagine the delirious scenes of unbridled excitement and celebrations on our streets if that mission succeeds? No colourful garlands this time for Ajay, Atul, Rajesh and their side-kick, Salim Essa, just steel chains.
As people chant and sing that now familiar anti-corruption anthem “Pay Back The Money”, some revellers will be tempted to call for the brothers to be put on the market square so they can be pelted with ripened tomatoes for their alleged misdemeanours.
But enough of this idle fantasising for the time being.
As a constitutional democracy, we understand the law must be allowed to take its course and that the Guptas must be accorded a fair trial in court.
But let’s not be fooled into a false sense of optimism here.
It’s not as if this “Bring Back the Guptas” mission, featuring ministers Ronald Lamola and Senzo Mchunu and their NPA colleagues, Shamila Batohi and Hermione Cronje, is a fait accompli. Far from it.
For starters, the delegation is heading to Abu Dhabi officially to attend a UN convention against corruption. While in the city, they plan to hold meetings with the UAE on the sidelines of the corruption summit to put forward its case.
Second, while the extradition treaty has already been signed by both sides, it’s being held up because it awaits ratification from the UAE parliament.
And it’s widely known the UAE is not keen on co-operating on extradition treaties. So it all depends on how serious and resolute SA is about sending out the strongest message possible to the UAE government.
This is not just a matter of reclaiming billions of rand pillaged from our state coffers. It goes to the very heart of our dignity and self-respect as a nation.
The Gupta brothers and Essa are fugitives from justice. They stand accused of such devious acts of corruption as our country has been left on the verge of junk status.
They cannot and should not be allowed to be sheltered from possible prosecution.
If the Guptas are let off the hook, people will be forgiven for believing this mission to Abu Dhabi was just an excuse for a shopping spree.