Why Zuma can't stop corruption - Zille

Helen Zille
16 April 2010

The DA leader says the president has too much to lose by taking action

Why Zuma couldn't stop corruption, even if he wanted to

The utterances of the ANC today have all the hallmarks of the double-think of George Orwell's 1984. If you haven't read the book, double-think involves holding two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. This means that when your actions contradict your words, you actually believe your own propaganda.

Examples of ANC double-think abound, but nowhere is it more apparent than its stance on corruption.

How often have we seen commentators praising ANC leaders, including the President, for their tough talk on corruption? It always ends with rhetoric. Action never follows.

When the President launched the ANC's manifesto before the last election, he said:

"Most importantly, the ANC will step up measures in the fight against corruption within its ranks and the State...this will include measures to review the tendering system, to ensure that ANC members in business, public servants and elected representatives do not abuse the State for corrupt practices."

In his State of the Nation address this year, he said: "We will pay particular attention to combating corruption and fraud in procurement and tender processes..." He said the same thing the year before. Yet, we have seen no measures introduced to actually do anything about corruption.

These repeated anti-corruption promises are deeply ironic given the cloud of corruption that hangs over the President himself. Extreme double-think must be necessary for Zuma to speak of his "zero tolerance" approach to corruption when he knows how many quashed charges hang over his own head. More than that. As he attacks corruption, President Zuma knows that the ANC undermined the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority to avoid ANC leaders, including himself, having to answer corruption charges in court. The Constitution itself is being sacrificed to the ANC's corruption.

What's more, the ANC has even set up front companies to institutionalise corruption. Most notorious is Chancellor House. Its purpose is to channel tenders and contracts from the ANC in government to the ANC in business in order to enrich the ANC and its leaders. Straight, institutionalised corruption.

Chancellor House facilitated the deal between Eskom and Hitachi Africa, to manufacture boilers for the proposed Medupi Power Station, from which the ANC stands to make an estimated R1-billion tax free profit. Eskom will have to pay with taxpayers' money. And, as a result, the ANC will become one of the wealthiest political parties in the world. Let South Africans remember this when they pay their inflated electricity bills.

So, while some in the ANC leadership rail against the proliferation of tenderpreneurs, the ANC has become the tenderpreneur-in-chief. A pattern is emerging here: the more corrupt the ANC becomes, the tougher its anti-corruption stance. Indeed, this is how double-think works. The graver the deed, the greater the falsehood required to neutralise it in one's mind.

It is time for everyone to realise that corruption is not just an aberration in the ANC that must be ‘rooted out' from time to time. The ANC needs corruption to survive, it is its lifeblood. It needs it to fund its election campaigns. It needs it to pay the loyalty networks necessary for ANC leaders to entrench their power. And it needs corruption to pay for its leadership's lifestyles. ANC leaders in the party, the state, and in business have become an interlocked network of patronage and corruption.  Everyone knows that everyone else is corrupt, so they cover up for each other, and abuse power to tighten their grip, undermining independent institutions and eliminating opposition both inside and outside the Party.

In the process, the ANC is turning South Africa into a criminal state. What will it take to get us out of this sordid mess?

The obvious thing would be for President Zuma to stop talking about corruption and take decisive action to actually expose and prevent it. He could announce anti-corruption measures such as preventing political parties from doing business with the state. He could announce laws which prevent government employees from doing business with government. And, he could stop the deployment of cadres to parastatals and institutions integral to the fight against corruption, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).  He could re-instate the independence of the criminal justice system to expose and prosecute corruption without fear or favour.

But he cannot do any of these things without exposing himself and his closest political allies to criminal prosecution. The criminal justice system has been perverted as an instrument for persecuting political opponents and protecting political allies.  But even this selective use of the criminal justice system is becoming difficult because the entire ANC edifice -- allies and opponents alike -- are caught in what Allister Sparks calls a ‘corruption gridlock'. Senior ANC members have so much dirt on each other, that they dare not take action against corruption. If one goes down, he will take the rest down with them. This is precisely what Jacob Zuma himself threatened to do when faced with prosecution relating to the arms deal before he became President.

This explains why the corruption in the arms deal was so successfully covered up. It explains why Julius Malema was able to get away with what he did and said before any rebuke whatsoever from Zuma. It explains why Schabir Shaik is still on medical parole, despite no evidence that he is terminally ill.

In all of these cases, the ANC leadership is paralysed because of its dubious past and future interest in maintaining the status quo. Zuma cannot go beyond rhetoric and take real action against corruption for fear of alienating those who have enough information to bring him down. His time and energy is spent placating those who hold this power over him instead of governing. This is the consequence of endemic corruption.

Most people think Zuma needed to avoid jail so he could become President. Actually, the opposite is true. Zuma needed to become President so that he could avoid jail.

Now that he has succeeded, Zuma is paralysed as a President. You can be sure that nothing will come of his rebuke of Malema. There will be no tough anti-corruption measures taken while he is in office. And, in time, Schabir Shaik will receive a presidential pardon.

If we dig deep enough, I believe we would discover that Jacob Zuma continues to benefit from corrupt relationships to this day. The lifestyle of his family is too lavish to be affordable on his presidential income. We wonder how he can spend millions - which he has insisted is his own money - renovating his residence at Nkandla. And we marvel at how he can support his wives, his fiancée and 20 children on a single salary.

But we also know that his family members, including his wives, are involved in over 100 companies - some of which benefit from state contracts. It was therefore not surprising that Zuma missed the deadline to declare his financial interests by 10 months, and only disclosed his assets when public pressure forced him to. The irresistible inference is that his advisors were sanitising his business interests for public consumption.

All of this tells us why Zuma cannot get tough on corruption, even if he wanted to. The cronies he relies on for political support benefit from corruption too much. Not only this, the ANC benefits. Most of all, Zuma and his family benefit.

This week, the DA tabled private members legislation in the National Assembly that, if passed, would put an end to political parties doing business with the state. This would have prevented the ANC from using its influence at Eskom to grant a multi-billion rand state contract to a company it has a stake in.

Also this week, we announced new legislation in the Western Cape, where the DA governs, that will prevent state employees and their families from doing business with the state, because of the clear conflict of interest this presents.

I have challenged President Zuma to implement this legislation at national level and I look forward to seeing his response. But I am not holding my breath. After all, he is caught in a corruption gridlock. He has too much to lose from taking decisive action against graft.

But what Zuma and his cronies need to understand is that, if they do not act against corruption in their ranks soon, they will lose in the end. They must remember that we live in a democracy and that they are subject to the will of the people. The time will come when even the ANC's staunchest supporters will realise what their party has become. The only remedy available in a democracy is to vote for an alternative.

As ANC NEC member Jeremy Cronin said this week: "The ANC should realise overwhelmingly that the honeymoon is over."

This article by Helen Zille first appeared in SA Today, the weekly online newsletter of the leader of the Democratic Alliance.

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If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 responses to this article

It's like this
The kleptocracy is drunk on bling ,baubles,broads,and booze.
They are vomiting their corrupt guts all over their gucci shoes whislt convincing each other that this is the fashionable thing to do.
i repeat, the african state is not there to . .more

by Plutarch on April 16 2010, 14:15
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The majority of voters in South Africa realizes that the current government is to blame for failing our people, due to widespread corruption and a lack of accountability, by not only elected officials, but also ANC cadres employed within the sphere of . .more

by Fielasting on April 16 2010, 14:30
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How can the "Corrupt" stop Corruption!
All his '30' children (including infants) have Companies or some CC so that they can provide "services" (like snacks) to gov. His son Duduzane just stole "Prospecting Rights" from KUMBA and ARCELORMITTAL; it is 1 way down for ur Banana Republic!

by Mute Fool on April 16 2010, 14:58
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Brilliant as usual
Helen articulates and summarises a situation with such skill and a clear logical head.

What the heck are we doing with incompetents like Zuma, Malema and Selebi getting into positions of power in SA when we have such excellent talent like Zille's . .more

by Sad Days on April 16 2010, 15:07
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Thanks Helen, I so wish this article would be printed in the Daily Sun

How are we going to get across to the masses , that we are grateful that The ANC came into power in order to get rid of Apartheid because there were too few of us (liberals) to do so. Also the way the Apartheid gov divided the political . .more

by didi on April 16 2010, 15:20
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Nice long article - It is clear that you dont know the main focus of the opposing party and you desimally failed to lead as a leader of the opposing party in this country - all you could do is to tell the whole South Africa what we dont want to know. The . .more

by My Future on April 16 2010, 15:53
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@ My Future

Sorry, I don't understand your post? " The ANC knows the challenges on the ground facing this country more than you do and will be dealt with without your ARTICLE"

Well, Helen has asked for help from the ANC to give district 6 back to their . .more

by didi on April 16 2010, 16:48
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@ My Future 2
This post from an ANC (Anarchy, Nepotism, Corruption) crony, illustrates the prime reason why South Africa is on the skids. No doubt, he/she is one of the 13 billion welfare recipients.

What is needed is a tax revolt by the tax-paying public. . .more

by razputin on April 16 2010, 19:52
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Why Zuma can't stop corruption - Zille
Brilliant read. Pity the rest of South Africa will never get to read or understand it. But do feel more should be done to steer the young people, living in squatter settlements, on a more positive road. With the proganda they are fed, little wonder . .more

by Janeen on April 16 2010, 22:20
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What worries me
It worries me that this article is likely to only reach those who already agree with you - how do we get this information into a format that is accessible to the people you need to convince? Or is the goal to cement a position amongst supporters? . .more

by Kat on April 17 2010, 08:15
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lavish lifestyles
@Louis xvii - no, Ms Zille never implied lavish lifestyles (for black or white) were a sin. She is saying government corruption is a sin. Ultimately, I read into your comment a fundamental frustration that there is not an equitable distribution of . .more

by homer on April 17 2010, 09:03
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The way of the world
in the modern world half of the worker wealth belongs to ten percent of the people. im not saying that this is right nor am i saying it is wrong. what is important here is to note is that it is the way things are. it is so because the powers that be . .more

by Grif on April 17 2010, 10:57
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Deploy Mma Ramotswe... "TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT" (the "No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series):-

pages 42/43 - with apologies, has an angle...

"I may be a detective, Rra," Mma Ramotswe explained, "but this is a very special thing you are . .more

by John Austin, London on April 17 2010, 19:41
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Opposition rhetoric
@ Sad Days
The DA relies almost entirely on revealing ANC failures - a valuable role but their proposed policies are seldom considered. The DA proposes fully privatizing healthcare, apparently oblivious to the lessons of the US and Europe and . .more

by Zandile on April 18 2010, 06:00
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exspensive lifestyle(by louis xvii)
ya , louis defintely its a sin according to them the whites because who is going to work on there huge hacters of land?

zille must stop throwing tamptrims and start working on a solution,rather to just put the blame on the anc.the q is how did . .more

by saroyan on April 18 2010, 08:37
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If the DA don't put the spotlight on the ANC when they get out of line ... who will. The reason they seem to be doing it all the time is because within the ANC corruption and incompetence has become endemic.

They certainly walk the talk when it . .more

by Sad days on April 18 2010, 09:05
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That SA inheritance
@Saroyan, you say "it's true, the ANC did inherit a corrupt SA"

So, thirty years ago, did ZANU also inherit a corrupt Zimbabwe?

And why have all these so-called "corrupt inheritances" all failed?

Finally, why is the only . .more

by John Austin, London on April 18 2010, 12:24
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@ Sad Days

Thank you for your posts, you write so concisely.

by didi on April 18 2010, 21:36
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How to change false perceptions of the opposition parties?

Responses from Louisvii, Zandile and Saroyan are both revealing and disheartening.

The regimes of Ian Smith and the Nationalist Party alienated the majority of blacks from white-led government to the extent that most would opt to suffer . .more

by mpho on April 18 2010, 23:16
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How to change false perceptions..........? (cont'd)

now the ANC "promises" a state system of universal health insurance! Very promising, Zandile, and that's all! They screwed up a relatively good public health system, and they're going to deliver a totally different and better all-inclusive system! . .more

by mpho on April 18 2010, 23:42
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1) No prisoner may vote, nor paroled ex convict
2) Independant watchdogs and prosecution for government fraud and corruption
3) No government employee may take tax money in business
4) Any government employee caught stealing will go to . .more

by for the better on April 19 2010, 03:40
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@Sad Days
You are 100% correct. You forget though that the majority voters are not willing to change their vote from ANC to DA. Reasons range from fear, ignorance and plain apathy. There are so many small parties unhappy with the status quo but, are also too . .more

by ceci on April 19 2010, 09:09
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ANC doing nothing for the people
My comment is aimed at the ANC supporters here who talk about Apartheid etc.
My grandfather was ANC through and through during the Apartheid years for over 20 years fighting for freedom etc. He is now retired and lives in a rural area, during a . .more

by Zubair on April 19 2010, 10:22
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@Sad Days
Taken Helen is a remarkable leader, my recent visit to CPT revealed evidence of that. The streets are clean etc. Funny thing is while most people are disillusioned by the ANC, it's hard for them to go with the DA just yet. It's like the old NATS, most . .more

by Dewald on April 19 2010, 10:53
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do you really expect the black masses to just start trusting a white party like the DA!? the only hope this country has, is if we all pray for the soul of the ANC. for years to come, the people of this country will be voting for the ANC. accept and help . .more

by DD on April 19 2010, 11:04
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Broken marriage

Broken marriage.
Historically speaking, most probably the Malaemic* guy is the best think that could ever happen. For that I mean to the ones who want partition.
He without any shade of doubt proves that the British imperial amalgamation . .more

by Injala Apera on April 19 2010, 11:34
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@ Mpho
Mpho- your name says your are black but your words make me wonder.... you should know better than to hope for white Rule.

Sad but true, the real heroes of the struggle have been sidelined by hijackers like Malema & his crew. i do pray and hope . .more

by dd on April 19 2010, 11:43
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Hellen DragonZille
this woman just keeps raising brillient question, with no solutions. she just enjoys people praising her stupity. why doesn't she tell South Africans of her ways and means of stopping corruption. she never gives solutions, but just probems. this ain't . .more

by msizi t on April 19 2010, 12:25
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@msizi t
You're embarrassing yourself.

by Bruce on April 19 2010, 13:57
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@msizi t

You stop corruption by firing those in the civil service who are corrupt, and vigourously prosecuting those who transgress. To this end you have specialised well resourced law enforcement units, like the Scorpions for example to deal with the . .more

by Oompah on April 19 2010, 22:30
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Anyone who thinks that apartheid could EVER happen in South Africa again is VERY uneducated. We have been educated of propaganda and our intelllegence is of a much higher level. Adolf Hitler no longer lives and Germany will never again supress the Jews... . .more

by Melissa on April 20 2010, 00:21
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Melissa, why do you feel the need to justify your opinion to such an extent that it seems like 'begging for acceptance'... a newish mindset have occurred in which the general black population 'expect' white guilt to last, and they play on that. Your . .more

by Fielasting on April 20 2010, 09:23
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Thank you for your reply, it is true what you say. I will remember your words of wisdom.

by Melissa on April 20 2010, 12:06
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propaganda of zille
Mrs Zille deserves a standing ovation for her ability to use a situation to her advantage, She is a great example to all, that the power of words is key to get any person to believe that you are a skilled leader. we are all aware of the problems in the . .more

by chandre on April 22 2010, 13:32
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Okay so where is the Suidlander recruitment station? Your children need you to defend their future!!...
Fellow whities.....get involved at all levels....or at a local issue level in your area. Black Nationalism is behind the corruption. If we leave the struggle to the Zille's alone there is no chance of stemming the tide of corruption. Already we see the . .more

by Rob Coomber on April 27 2010, 09:19
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it is said that the majority of uneducated people will not have access on this information and the it is difficult for uneducated people to understand corruption in gorvernment.

by vuyani on October 21 2010, 04:59
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