Acting director general at the Government Communications and Information Service (GCIS) and government spokesperson Phumla Williams this week gave a personal account of her dealings with state capture.
While her testimony may not have been as explosive as that former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, it equally offered us an intriguing glimpse into the civil service that was run between the Union Buildings and the Gupta family compound in Saxonworld. In front of Judge Raymond Zondo stood a decorated anti-apartheid activist who wanted to protect the republic from the claws of the Gupta until one Faith Muthambi hounded her to near madness.
In an emotional testimony, which also featured a lot of tears, Williams recounted how she became a nervous wreck because Muthambi – who sulked every time people failed to call her honourable minister – fought her over supply chain management at the GCIS. Williams said Muthambi wanted to steal for the Guptas at all costs. Her graphic recollection was underpinned by her absolute belief in good governance.
Days before, Themba Maseko, a man who once held Williams’ position, also emphasised the two little words – good governance – as key to serving a nation. It does not require nuclear physics to understand what good governance means to a country. It is the window that the outside world uses to determine its attitude towards that country and an instrument investors use to decide on where their monies should be ploughed. It is through good governance that governments in particular are able to ascertain what their budgets should look like and how much revenue would be generated to fund what expenditure.
It is something that sensible people such as Judge Mervyn King take so serious that they spend years to craft to guide good corporate behaviour in South Africa. For a country that is struggling to balance its revenues and expenditure – a high school basic requirement to pass accounting and economics – good governance is key to success. It is a principle that has governed the idea behind revenue collection the world over because while citizens feel that that paying taxes is an irritation, it is a necessary to fund state programmes that make a country attractive enough to call home.