Our continent seems to be cursed, from despotic dictators to corrupt regimes hiding under the facade of democracy. Ours is a continent of abundant resources laced with endemic corruption. On the 28th of May we awoke to news that there were leaked emails circulating that appeared to prove once and for all the capturing of the South African state by the Gupta family under Captain Zuma’s alleged watch and endorsement. The Sunday Times and the City Press newspapers published excerpts of emails between members of the Gupta family, their employees, various politicians and public officials on the said Sunday. This took me back to a couple of years ago when I engaged in an academic debate with a South African friend on the status of our two countries, following the recall of then President Thabo Mbeki by the ANC. The fellow maintained that South Africa would soon surpass Botswana as the most democratic and least corrupt country in Africa given its liberal and modern constitution. If their president is not delivering and the majority do not want him, they simply RECALL! I still hear him bellowing. This is Africa (T.I.A) I kept on saying, we all have our problems but others are bigger than some Mfowethu, after all you’re bringing in a man who had faced 738 counts of corruption, was linked to the Arms deal scandal and had survived a rape charge. Fast track to today, the leaks now commonly known as the #Guptaleaks include a draft letter purportedly sent from a Tony Gupta to one of his employees, and then to Duduzane Zuma although it was prepared for President Zuma’s signature. In the letter Zuma writes to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi requesting for his “guidance and direction” on making the UAE his second home. This was a shocker for me and many others, a sitting president asking for residency in another country? All Zuma had to do was sign the draft and mail it to the royal in Abu Dhabi. Ijo, Metlholo ya nta ya tlhogo! T.I.A Mfowethu!
If he or had he been given the said residency it raises pertinent questions on (1) where his loyalties would lie, the South African constitution which he has sworn to uphold & protect, or his recently found second home in Dubai. My learned friends in the legal fraternity will weigh in on this but this to me, if it be true, profoundly stinks of treason. Many questions need to be raised on this supposed letter which Zuma has denied laying eyes on, (2) is he somehow terrified to stay in his native South Africa where he has built himself a Castle in a village he has made infamously known as Nkandla-Gate, or (3) is it because like the notorious Yahya Jammer of Gambia he expects to flee from Mzansi to the UAE in case the old, the new and the future Zuptarisation and Corruption charges put him behind bars under another Government (be it ANC under new leadership, EFF, DA or what have you)? Or (4) is it simply a case of him wanting to join the Gupta’s in Dubai who are said to own a mansion worth R331mill there, only Msholozi can answer. Another worrying factor from the leaks is information that Transnet, the government owned railway and Logistics Company in South Africa has awarded the Gupta’s and their associate’s contracts worth over R5.3 Billion to procure locomotives in a scheme largely known as fronting. Here is how it works; the local company (in this case the Gupta and Salim Essa owned companies) have contacts in the political and public service, they then approach an international company with the technical knowhow to submit a bid with the assurance that the said company will win the tender, the local company is engaged by the international company as “Advisers” in the noted country hence getting kickbacks in the form of advisory fees, in this case a staggering R5.3 Billion worth of kickbacks. Malusi Gigaba, the new and currently appointed Finance Minister (then running the public enterprises portfolio) is said to have appointed Gupta friends to the Transnet board, with the controversial Brian Molefe serving as Transnet CEO in 2011 (yes the former Eskom CEO who has served the company like a Yoyo, also former ANC MP) to make sure that a company being lobbied for by a Gupta ally, Salim Essa, CSR (Hong Kong) Co Ltd wins the bid.
Back to my learned friend whose thoughts through debate helped shape my own opinions on democracy, corruption and transparency in African politics; something seriously needs to be done about endemic and systematic corruption in African politics. From the Arms deal to the current Guptaleaks and the alleged Zuptarisation of Mzansi, we need to have an honest and frank conversation on where we see our continent and individual countries in the future. There are many more nauseating emails that portray endemic corruption in Zuma’s inner circle, between a 100k and 200k to be precise, in the Guptaleaks, for now these are the issues that weigh heavily in my heart. Amabhungane, the investigative journalism NGO in Mzansi deserves a pat in the back for unearthing the said emails. A situation where a sitting Head of State begs for residency in another country like a refugee deserves to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. At the birth of Mzansi’s democracy, the whole continent celebrated with our brethren in the South, it is on the same note and spirit that we should heartily condemn any and all incidences of such a nature happening across the diaspora. Our rulers have abdicated their responsibility to lead but have rather resorted to looting. To my friends eMzansi, best believe that the worst is yet to come before the dust settles but prevail you will. One wonders if this is the same ANC of Utata Mandela, Luthuli, Sisulu and Kathrada. This Is Africa, Re mono Fela as we would say kwa Ga Malete!
By Tlhatlhobo TK ko goora Mosienyane
tkmosienyane@gmail or facebook for comments or debate