Covid-19 presented chance for ANC to loot shamelessly
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By Lihle Luthwitsha
When a country is hit by a natural disaster, be it floods, volcanic eruptions or a pandemic, it tends to experience significant crises which have enormous negative impacts on all aspects of social life.
That involves putting the wellbeing of citizens at risk, loss of life, crippling the economy and intensifying unbearable living conditions. It becomes devastating for people who are stricken by dire poverty and unemployment, with no source of income when such a calamity occurs.
And in most cases, a natural disaster does not trigger an alarm to warn people so that they can prepare for it. Unfortunately, it occurs in a blink of an eye.
Just recently, the world has found itself in a global crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic.
The outbreak was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Most initial cases of Covid-19 were related to an infection from a seafood wholesale market.
Since its inception in China, the virus swiftly circulated around the globe, affecting all spheres of society and disturbing all social and economic activities.
The effectiveness of a government can be measured by how positively it handles such a situation. But the implementation of lockdown regulations in South Africa has had a substantially negative impact on all spheres of life, most noticeably on the economy, stability and social issues.
The effects are even more severe on the poorer and more vulnerable communities and households. Thus, it comes as a shock to see shameless looting of resource funds intended to help those most in need in the fight against Covid-19.
It is even worse that it is the same government officials who vowed to be trustworthy in providing and delivering services to their citizens who are now basking prosperously in the royal favour of the Covid-19 Relief Funds.
The governing ANC has always been in the public eye for corruption. Most prevalent is it’s role in state capture, which has had a great effect on most if not all institutions of the country.
Billions of rand which should have improved public transport, developed infrastructure for the poor, improved water utilities and capitalised emerging black farmers and other development sectors are instead the source of wealth for state officials.
Corruption has also been rooted in tenderpreneurship – the corrupt awarding of government tender contracts based on nepotism and relations with politically appointed officials, with the aim of mutual enrichment.
A prime case is that of the Gupta family and ex-president Jacob Zuma. Among others are cases of looted state funeral money, as evident in the recent Free State fraud and money-laundering case involving ANC government officials.
True to the ANC’s customary behaviour, their response to Covid-19 was to make shameless, opportunistic gains. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has reported on what Sandile Zungu, president of the Black Business Council has called the “unscrupulous and filthy” behaviour by the 90 companies in the Gauteng Health Department, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape that the SIU has been investigating.
The SIU revealed that personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health-supply tenders worth billions were awarded to different companies connected to ANC government officials. The distribution of food parcels was abused, with parcels received by the officials’ favourites, who then traded them on, overpriced, to make a killing on the market.
In light of these reports, it is evident that looting in the ANC is now an ingrained culture. They are so used to it that it has become second nature to them, at a time when poverty-stricken communities are drowning in destitution and people are dying like flies, among them doctors and nurses, more so from inaccessible PPE, treatment and decent ventilation in hospitals.
As usual, ANC officials are doing what they do best: enriching themselves. Consequently, I wonder how ANC members who still love this organisation feel about this continual, unapologetic and insensitive looting of public funds that should be helping them, that are instead their leaders’ key to financial freedom and bragging rights?
To show the reality of ANC’S failure to deliver, President Cyril Ramaphosa made much noise during his election campaign about fighting and putting an end to corruption. However, in a letter he sent to ANC members and leaders on August 23 last year, the president admitted that the ANC had failed to eradicate and act against corruption. Instead, they had allowed corruption to flourish on his watch.
So it comes as no surprise that the selfsame ANC has failed to deliver basic services to its people during the Covid-19 pandemic; it would have been a miracle for them to have acted contrary to their norm of looting.
After all, this is an organisation that has been failing to implement its own resolutions.
Covid-19 will be wiped out, but the ANC’s corruption will remain entrenched in our government institutions.
Lihle Luthwitsha is a third-year student at Wits University’s School of Education.