Opinion

The anatomy of corruption is laid bare at state capture inquiry

02 September 2018 - 00:00 By ONKGOPOTSE JJ TABANE


This past week has not shocked SA, despite the horrific tales told by witnesses at the state capture commission of inquiry. We have become numb to the revelations because so many of us have always known of the extent of the rot but were too afraid to come forward and expose the wrongdoers.
Doing wrong, especially when it comes to the theft of public funds, has become the way to conduct business in SA's body politic. The lecture by the acting chief procurement officer at the commission was therefore necessary - to remind all of us of how things ought to be done as opposed to how they are done.
The anatomy of corruption in SA is very simple: people in high positions, including cabinet members, MECs and councillors, are politicians by day and business people by night, with their fingers in the cookie jar through proxies. They collude with corrupters in the private sector who aid the theft.
It's actually sickening, because people who attempt to do business with the government in an honest manner are caught in this crossfire, where they have to pay somebody who has nothing to do with the business. When you complain about this, you become the subject of ridicule.
It is hard to find a minister or MEC who does not have a proxy somewhere helping them to steal. What the commission will do is expose a few of these dishonest politicians and officials - and society has to teach them a lesson, knowing that they are the tip of the iceberg.
When you listen to the testimony of former Government Communication & Information System CEO Themba Maseko and its acting head, Phumla Williams, you really have to cringe at the extent of the theft over the past 10 years in particular. Not that it started with the Zuma administration, but it is clear that under him it grew brazen.
But I digress.
The fired board of the Universal Service & Access Agency of SA (Usaasa)was on my mind when I was writing this. This week kudos go to the public protector for exposing that corrupt board and well done to the telecoms minister for implementing the remedial action of the public protector and firing the lot.
They are thoroughly corrupt individuals who fit the bill of state capturers. There is no doubt in my mind that they were out to do the bidding of the corrupt Guptas and their friends in various parts of government. That is why they found it expedient to attempt to fire the respectable Usaasa CEO, Lumko Mtimde, who refused to sign off on billions of rands that were destined to be looted.
Mtimde could have joined them at the trough but, like Maseko, he said no and suffered for months, even ending up in hospital with depression. Like Maseko he lost his livelihood for telling his board to stop its nonsense. Now it is the board that has been sent packing by minister Siyabonga Cwele, and Mtimde will get his job back. A simple story of good triumphing over evil.
It is disgusting, to say the least, that politicians in as high a place as the cabinet have stalled the progress in digital migration in order to be at the front of the queue to loot. Because of this greed, SA is behind many other African countries in this all-important migration.
This is why it is not enough for Cwele to fire the Usaasa board. As a former minister of intelligence he is sure to be aware of the puppet masters behind the board, and one hopes he will use whatever information he has to report these thieves. The sooner leaders start speaking out, the faster we can uproot the rot that gnaws at the resources that should be directed at our people.
The state capture issue is set to get more interesting and it is clear that, whether be it the Eskom inquiry, the horror stories at Transnet and SAA, or even the South African Revenue Service inquiry, we are beginning to piece together the rotten pie of corruption.
But today let's take a moment to celebrate a courageous civil servant like Lumko Mtimde, who stood his ground.
∗ Tabane is a TV and radio talkshow host. Follow him @JJTabane

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