Call the Gupta family to order
Sunday Times Editorial: MINISTER of Finance Pravin Gordhan has become the first cabinet member to warn that the country could face popular revolts similar to those sweeping through North Africa if it fails to tackle corruption and growing inequality.
He said the upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were "about allowing inequality to grow" and "about a state that doesn't actually perform - about a minority that accumulates things for itself".
"Now, if we want to follow that pattern over the next 10 years, we will end up like North Africa, and we shouldn't," he said.
Instead of being as defensive as government and ANC leaders have been when commentators draw similarities between our own situation and North Africa, President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet should heed their colleague's warning.
Although our democratic system is far more vibrant than what they have had up north, and constitutional institutions such as the public protector - which were created to guard against the abuse of power by those in positions of authority - are increasingly proving to be fiercely independent and well-functioning, there are troubling signs that we could be sliding into a failed state where kleptocracy and cronyism prevail.
The undue influence that the Gupta brothers seemingly have over the president and his government should be of great concern to all South Africans who do not want to see their country turning into a banana republic.
Reports of the family handsomely benefiting from lucrative business deals - presumably owing to their close ties to the president and his children - are unpalatable on their own.
But the news that the Guptas are now so confident of their power that they even issue instructions to ministers and senior government officials is downright disgusting.
They have no business influencing decisions, as it is alleged, on who gets appointed to which strategic position in state-owned companies such as Transnet and Telkom.
Parastatals are there to serve the developmental needs of our country, not to line the pockets of individuals - be they South African or foreign.
There is an urgent need for an independent probe into the Gupta family's alleged influence over those in power and whether their proximity to the president, through his son Duduzane, with whom they are in business, has unfairly given them an advantage over other business people.
The South African republic is not for sale, and it is time Zuma, if he does not approve of what his friends are alleged to be doing, distanced himself from their actions and called them to order.
Failure to do so would be to sell out the nation.