Corruption: A nation infected
Over the last twenty or so years, corruption has infected South Africa to the extent that there are few areas its unsightly tentacles have not yet reached. The rampant corruption problems have resulted in South Africa hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. Money meant to go toward essential services such schools, hospitals, and the police has instead been lining the pockets of the elite politicians elected by the masses to look after and serve their best interests.
All around us we see the effects of systemic corruption: government schools are dilapidated with buildings falling apart, scholars not receiving textbooks, and teachers left in overcrowded classes with little to no resources to teach the upcoming generations.
State hospitals paint a similarly horrendous picture with patients waiting hours (if not days) to be treated, sleeping on the floor because there are not enough beds for everyone, and dying due to malpractice and negligence at the hands of hospital staff.
As for our dear old South African Police Services (SAPS), corruption has taken a shape of its own. Officers are working hand in hand with the very criminals that they are meant to be arresting and protecting us law abiding citizens from. Crime has spiraled out of control as effective policing has been replaced by a lazy, corrupt, and ineffective force that is ill-disciplined and poorly resourced. Thanks to the corruption of SAPS, criminal syndicates and other organised crime rackets have made our streets their home. Drugs flood the streets while gangsters are killing innocent members of the public who get caught in their crossfire during gang turf wars, a problem that has become particularly prevalent on the Cape Flats. Smuggling syndicates strip our natural resources as poaching has become the new normal: our rhino, perlemoen, and fish populations plummet due to a lack of action by the relevant SAPS divisions.
So, what is the presidency doing about corruption? By the look of things, very little if anything at all. President Cyril Ramaphosa in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) (held in February) blew hot air saying that those who made themselves guilty of corruption would be caught and held accountable to the nation for their conduct. However, to date what has truly come of this tough talk? Sweet blow all, I tell you.
In the Zuma matter, Ramaphosa came out all guns blazing, saying that the state will not foot the former president’s legal bills. He quickly backtracked on this and we the taxpayers, will now have to cough up Zuma’s estimated R290 000 per day in legal fees. All this for a man who made himself guilty of defrauding the state and the very people he was elected to represent. Surely someone has been put in jail for corruption or failing to perform within the mandate of their offices, you ask. Nope, not one. Not Dudu Myeni, not Brian Molefe, not Ben Ngubane, and certainly not Tom Moyane. Instead they were either treated to multi-million Rand golden handshakes or have ran to the courts to try and evade their intended punishments.
What message does this end to the average South African or children and the youth of SA? Lie, steal, cheat and you will certainly be rewarded for it. Conduct yourself in an honourable manner and try and fight corruption and you will, like Pravin Gordahn, be labelled a sellout and hounded for your ethics.
As it stands, whether we will recover from the plague of corruption seems highly unlikely. What is needed is an entire overhaul of our political landscape with an entirely different approach to governance and the legal system. We need to see those who make themselves guilty of corruption going to jail and serving effective sentences, which should in turn serve as deterrence for others who consider doing the same thing. If that does not work, reinstate the death penalty and hang perpetrators of corruption. If the Chinese can do it, why can’t we? In our progressive stance on human rights we have created an environment where those who infringe those rights themselves have been seen to have more rights than their victims.
If things continue as they currently are we will undoubtedly see problems within the country keeping the nation on its knees. Think utter lawlessness, the destruction of the environment, the collapse of the economy thanks a further increase in taxes and increases seen in VAT and fuel prices, and the ultimate annihilation of life as we know it. While this may seem a tad doom prophetic on my behalf, it is simply a matter of being unashamedly honest about where we find ourselves as a nation. We simply find ourselves lacking ethical and capable leaders like Nelson Mandela and his ilk, and it is showing. However, doom and gloom aside, let us continue to give Ramaphosa the benefit of the doubt in the hope that he will be able to get his act together and, unlike most politicians, deliver on his SONA promises.