NEWS & ANALYSIS

Off with their heads

David Bullard's presents some modest proposals for dealing with the ANC corruption crisis

OUT TO LUNCH

Hardly a week goes by, nay, hardly a day goes by without some mention in the mainstream media of yet another well connected ANC cadre making an absolute fortune from a dodgy deal at the expense of the tax-payer. And those are only the ones we read about. Can you even imagine how many other cases there are that are yet to be uncovered?

These are never small amounts either but I suppose if your natural instinct as a well remunerated public servant dedicated to the upliftment of the poor is to steal then you may as well steal as much as possible. You should never fight against your natural instincts.

The latest corruption scandal to emerge is related to the exploitation of COVID-19 contracts and the rot goes allegedly right up to the now former Presidential spokesperson. It’s hard for we mere mortals to understand how a piece of protective equipment which wholesales at, for example, R30 can be purchased by a government department at ten times that amount.

It literally beggars belief. Did no alarm bells ring when the inflated contract was agreed to? Were supplier’s credentials not called into question? Didn’t common sense kick in at any stage and didn’t somebody ask how something that looked as if was worth R30 could possibly be selling for R300?

Apparently not and the only possible reason for that is that, Nelson like, the telescope was put to the blind eye. Even by the appalling standards of corruption on the African continent our politicians seem determined to take criminality to new and ever dizzying heights.

Last week President Ramaphosa (now affectionately known as President Frogboiler by many of the paler members of the Twitterati) caused great guffaws of disbelief when he claimed that he was indeed shocked (and possibly surprised) that so many of his own party were exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic for their own ends and enriching themselves while the numbers of those affected were about to soar into the stratosphere.

We’ve heard all this before and it was only a couple of years ago that the Frogboiler was going to tackle the widespread corruption that had brought the country to the edge of the fiscal cliff. Indeed, back in 2009 a certain President Zuma was sworn into office promising to crack down on corruption and we all know how that one ended up.

The harsh reality is that the ANC has absolutely no intention whatsoever to crack down on corruption within its ranks. That became apparent at the meeting of the NEC last Saturday when some members of the party who presumably still have some vestige of common decency called for former President Kgalema Motlanthe to look into accusations against the party’s top brass.

Like me, you may have thought that a raft of investigative journalists and the evidence presented at the Zondo commission had already done a pretty good job of fingering the guilty but that apparently is insufficient for the ANC hierarchy. As they constantly remind us when another major sleazeball is suspended on full pay and perks “people must be presumed innocent until found guilty”.

That safeguard only works though if there is a good chance of the alleged guilty party ever appearing in court. Since our legal system seems to have been “captured” by the same gangsters who captured the country the reality is that any case against those who have been fingered will either never come to court or the case will be repeatedly delayed (think Zuma) as defence counsel claim they haven’t had time to ‘study the papers’.

Another favourite trick is to switch lawyers and delay the case that way. All of this judicial skulduggery is at the expense of the taxpayer and designed to keep the obviously guilty out of jail and fit and able to carry on plundering. It’s worth mentioning that none of this stonewalling nonsense will be available to the 230 000 poor sods who were arrested for various lockdown crimes.

The worthies at the NEC conference kicked the proposal into touch and one insider described the proceedings as a “classic case of whataboutism” as one dodgy faction pointed fingers at another.

The rot in the ANC goes so deep that it’s virtually impossible to find anybody brave or foolhardy enough to act as a whistleblower. They’re all no doubt familiar with the Hollywood mafia movies and know full well that the code of ‘omerta’ is sacrosanct among criminal organisations if you don’t want to be sleeping with the fishes.

The idea that Motlanthe should be brought in as an ‘elder’ to oversee the process was presumably designed to shut the media critics up and give the impression that something was finally being done.

Just to prove what a farce the whole thing was it was reported that Ace Magashule suggested to the meeting that the scrupulously honest top six of the ANC sit down and come up with names of party leaders in all provinces implicated in wrongdoing.

Their names would then be submitted to the ANC’s Integrity (sic) committee for a decision as to whether they should stand down. Or maybe be bumped off for knowing too much…., who knows? Can you believe it…., the ANC actually has an “Integrity committee’? You’ve got to hand it to the guys; they may not be able to run a country (other than into the ground) but they do have a very well developed sense of Monty Pythonesque humour.

Now I may be deluding myself but I can’t help but get the feeling that South Africans, rich and poor, and of all religions and skin colours are getting heartily sick of being treated by utter contempt by the ANC, of being lied to and having their country hijacked by a bunch of hoodlums masquerading as politicians.

Time and credibility are fast running out and President Ramaphosa urgently needs to show some indication that he has leadership qualities. Admittedly there has been no evidence of this so far but when you’re busy choosing the finishes for your luxury Fresnaye mansion it’s possible that your mind isn’t fully on the job at hand. Becoming President of a formerly flourishing democracy which has now become just another African basket case was never going to be easy but he did volunteer for the job.

What we need urgently (like yesterday) is some action. I’ve said this before but let me repeat it. Special courts need to be set up to hear corruption cases without the usual bullshit and delay. Suspects need to be rounded up and held in custody until their trials and if found guilty punished severely.

Sadly we don’t have the death penalty but the old English punishment for high treason (which this is) was hanging, drawing and quartering. Being a bit squeamish I wouldn’t go quite that far but a corporate sponsored guillotine in public places would almost certainly draw an enthusiastic cell phone waving crowd and satisfy that insatiable human desire for revenge.

So much for the obviously guilty but what about those on the periphery who the authorities coyly refer to as ‘accomplices’. I refer here to the luxury car dealers and the estate agents who seem more than happy to help launder stolen funds. The first thing a light-fingered cadre does when he has won the R25mln tender to supply non existent face masks to some morally bankrupt government department is to blow the R10mln good faith, up front payment on a fleet of luxury cars.

Do those motor dealers never suspect that they are dealing with a scumbag as they hand him the keys to a R4.5million supercar? Of course they do but … hey … business is tough at the moment so you take what you can get. I would strongly recommend that anybody caught selling luxury vehicles or real estate to dodgy cadres without doing a thorough due diligence check of credentials should spend a few years in prison for aiding and abetting.

The same applies to anyone financing these deals. If the purchaser had R10 000 in his current account yesterday and suddenly has R10mln today then surely alarm bells should be ringing?

Being a realist I have no expectation that anything is about to change. Criminality is now part of the ANC’s DNA and that $4.5 billion loan from the IMF is no doubt being regarded as a lottery win by those who are used to having their snouts closest to the trough.

As Mr. Orwell wrote in 1984 “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. Or to put it in fashionable 2020 ‘wokespeak’ – black lives matter but obviously well connected black lives matter more than others.

The good news for the global luxury car industry is that it is impossible to make an unaffordable super car if you’re planning to sell them in South Africa. Just don’t ask too many questions.