Saturday, September 5, 2015

Is violence becoming an end in itself? - the choice for South Afica's democracy

The problem in SA is not that the ANC or President Zuma is uniquely corrupt, but that one party is unchallenged in power and has been for too long. Corruption inevitably follows that everywhere.
Moreover, what everyone forgets is that it started long ago with the arms deal under former president Thabo Mbeki, not President Zuma. President Mbeki is remembered for not firing a single minister or official except those who disagreed with him. No one called it tyranny then. No one dared to.
The criticism of ANC government - that it is absolutely corrupt and ineffectual, that Zuma is a 'tyrant' - runs to extremes, just as constant publicity encourages the Economic Freedom Fighters to excess. The freedom of the press can be used to harm freedom as well as to defend it.

Iwe hope to put right evident wrongs like Nkandla, as the EFF insist they will, the means must be weighted in the scales as well as the end. There is a choice. There is the way of due process and the rule of law, the way unmistakably marked out by the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of "trust, common decency and rational discourse". And there is the way of Julius Malema and the EFF.

We must ask ourselves what in the end that offers other than the threat of meeting violence, as they see it, with violence.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The scourge of corruption in South Africa

Heaven forbid people are stopped from blaming the government, the resort of authoritarian regimes. And heaven knows twenty years of ANC government has spawned nepotism, cronyism and incompetence enough to keep a whole nation of critics at work.

But as the proposals to solve the problems crowd in - a new ANC leader, a DA electoral breakthrough, achieving the promised land of the ANC's 'national democratic revolution' or the wonderland of the 'fighters for economic freedom', the EFF - we need to remember: no person or party can run a modern rights-based state without an autonomous bureaucracy that works both efficiently and effectively. To put it less academically, a corps of people who see themselves as public servants, trained for the job and committed to doing it decently.

This vital component is still missing in South Africa not only due to the governing ANC's policy of cadre deployment, though that plainly makes things worse.

The human resources to transform the state and society for the hopeful successor generation of 1994 did not exist. How could they, after half a century of legalised apartheid had neglected or ignored education for the majority of non-citizens and reserved positions of leadership and control to a minority?

All South Africans live with the consequences today, but with an ironic as well as painful extra twist.

As the ANC government comes under increasing democratic pressure to tackle corruption and inefficiency, so the word goes out through the party-state that such misdeeds are starting to be penalised.

Honest and competent officials, along with the venal, face a baffling new threat. In a system where loyalty and connections, not merit, have been the criteria, they find they had better now enforce the regulations to the letter.

Two things follow hand in hand: delivery slows further while rule-breaking continues to grow.

Corruption after all is a black market, closing the gap between the supply and demand of goods and services.