Failure of leadership has brought South Africa to the brink, says Corruption Watch
18 July 2021
The current crisis in South Africa that has seen widespread unrest, looting, disruption of services and destruction of infrastructure can be laid squarely at the feet of a political establishment out of touch with a population that it claims to represent, according to Corruption Watch.
While many contributory forces are at play in this crisis, the reality of people driven to desperation by hunger, inequality, and unemployment cannot be ignored. For the last decade, if not more, people have been subjected to deteriorating living conditions, lack of services, and empty promises from politicians, against a backdrop of escalating corruption at the highest levels. Add to this the austerity imposed by the lockdowns during Covid-19, the ravaging effects of the third wave of the pandemic, and ongoing blatant corruption – from tenders and procurement of PPEs to food relief parcels – and it is no wonder that matters erupted as they did.
David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: “While material deprivation has responded to the lit fuse, it is clear that those who bear ultimate responsibility for causing this explosion are to be found within the ranks of the African National Congress, the governing party, and in particular amongst the supporters of the disgraced former president, Jacob Zuma.”
For many years, civil society organisations have warned about the impact of not only corruption, but the effects of financial austerity on the most vulnerable, and the economic exclusion of large parts of the population whose prospects for employment have become increasingly bleaker. Interventions have taken the form of submissions to government, formal reports, papers, advocacy, and engagement with critical sectors to address the inequality and imbalances in the country, in order to avert a situation of this magnitude. The corresponding lack of leadership and accountability within critical criminal justice institutions and the hollowing out of the security apparatus has left the public vulnerable and unprotected, as the activities of last week so clearly demonstrated.