Public thrills to the quickening pursuit of those who have plundered
A wind of change is sweeping through South Africa. Not since the dawn of democracy in 1994 has the country experienced the same sense of anticipation and excitement we feel now in the wake of several dramatic developments that one hopes will draw a curtain on the shameful and depressing era of state capture.
May this wind become a howling gale of renewal. For the past few years President Jacob Zuma and his extended family, in cahoots with the Guptas and their cronies, have ridden roughshod over the finely crafted constitutional measures designed to safeguard the integrity of the state.
They have done this by infiltrating state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, often in apparent cahoots with otherwise reputable organisations like KPMG and McKinsey.
They have been aided and abetted by Zuma himself, through dubious appointments to key posts, notably prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams. Finance ministers of the calibre of Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan were tossed aside to serve the interests of the Zu ma and Gupta families. Our global ratings were trashed, our carefully nurtured reputation among foreign investors was destroyed and economic growth suffered as South Africa became the fiefdom of two families, ruling from Nkandla and Saxonwold respectively.Through all of this the ANC remained in thrall to the leader it had chosen above all others at Polokwane in 2007, a man who had dodged fraud charges so that he could make it to the highest office in the land. Throughout, the often lone voice of public protector Thuli Madonsela could be heard, and even this faithful servant of democracy was not spared as Zuma cronies pilloried her, claiming she was a spy for the CIA.
Nothing was sacred anymore. But the state capture project, as elaborate and fiendish as it was, could never endure in a society which, while crippled by Zuma’s trickery and deception, remained in essence open and free, with courts and a media that remain largely independent.
The leaking of thousands of Gupta e-mails last year signalled a change. Laid bare for all to see was the “proof ” of the nature and breadth of the state capture project. Yet nothing happened, and even the Hawks, clawless successors to the Scorpions banished so unceremoniously by Zuma and the post-Polokwane ANC, stood by, feebly suggesting their first line of inquiry would be to uncover who was behind the leaks.