CORRUPTION BECOMING NORMAL
Just more than a week ago, owners of driving schools in Mbombela in Mpumalanga province staged a protest against the increase of the bribery amount that is to be paid to get a driving licence. In case you did not get it, the protest is not against bribery as such. That has been accepted. They have accepted that those applying for driving licences will not get them unless they pay a bribe. The protest is about the increase of the bribery amount from R1 700 to R2 000.
As usual, the response by those in authority was standard: they were shocked.
Owners of driving schools told the media that it was impossible for their students to get driver’s licences unless the traffic officials had been paid a bribe. They have accepted that as their reality. What they were concerned about was the proposed increase of the bribery charge.
We are becoming a sick society. If those who are in authority openly accept bribes without any consequences, we are in trouble as a country. If ordinary members of the public offer bribes to officials without fearing arrest, our country is fast sliding into a cesspit of corruption.
People can only suffer to the extent that they allow. The common refrain from those paying the bribe will be: “What can we do? If we do not pay, we will fail. It is that simple. Nobody wants to be a hero. I just want to get my licence and get on with my life.”
And that is exactly where the problem lies. It is not that ordinary people like corruption or like paying a bribe. They just find it convenient. As unhappy as they are about corruption, they will pay and accept that they have no power to stop it. And that is when corruption thrives. As someone once observed, evil thrives when good people are silent.
If we as society want to combat corruption, and it is AZAPO Voice’s submission that we do, we should not opt for the easy option. We should refuse to pay a bribe to get a licence which we deserve to get because we qualify to get it. Corruption is really expensive. Apart from making the cost of the driver’s licence more expensive, people who are not qualified to be on our roads are driving on our roads. Is it a surprise that we have so many accidents on our roads?
Corruption cannot thrive without the active co-operation of members of the public. But the law enforcement agencies should also take the lead. There are too many undercover officers in the security cluster who should be working around the clock to crack this organised crime of trading on driver’s licences. These officers should do their job or if they cannot, they should be fired.
Equally, these officers report to politicians. The politicians should hold these people accountable and act against the corrupt. If the politicians are also failing, as it appears to be, they too should be fired. And guess who has the power to fire politicians? You, the voter!
TRUCK ACCIDENTS JUST A TIP OF THE ICEBERG OF COLONIALISM
Lately, there have been too many horror road accidents involving trucks on our national roads. Too many people have lost their lives in road accidents involving trucks in the different provinces.
Those close to the subject say the reason for the sudden surge of truck accidents on national roads is the destruction of the rail infrastructure. During the years of the heightened State Capture by the Gupta brothers, there was a lot of destruction of the railway lines. The looting of Transnet also meant that investment required to maintain the transportation of goods through rail did not happen. This forced many companies wanting to transport their goods to the ports to opt for the only other available option – road. This resulted in heavy traffic of trucks on the roads. Truck drivers are given tight deadlines to reach the port. In their desperate attempt to meet the deadlines imposed by their bosses, some drivers engage in reckless and dangerous driving, forcing them to overtake on barrier lines and also overtaking several cars and even trucks at once. Some more daring truck drivers even drive on the oncoming lane as they rush to the ports.
In the short term, in order to make the roads safer, those in authorities should fix the rail infrastructure so that goods should move via goods trains and not on the roads.
But in the long term, the country should develop an industrial policy aimed at dismantling the colonial architecture of the economy. Since the arrival of the European settlers in April 1652, the colonialists have used South Africa and other Afrikan countries as colonies that will supply the colonial powers in Europe with raw materials and even labour.
A small island country such as England would establish colonies throughout the world. These colonies would supply England with different raw materials from precious minerals such as diamond, gold and platinum to agricultural products such as spices, fruits and vegetables. Those resources that the colonial powers would need would be used in their countries. The raw minerals would then be processed into finished goods. The finished goods would then be exported to various countries, including the same countries where the raw materials would have been obtained from.
The current government has been talking about beneficiation since it assumed office in 1994 but without any movement in that regard. Instead, some of its prominent leaders have been co-opted into the multinational corporations to give these multinationals an acceptable Afrikan face so that they can continue to exploit the resources of the country without the ugly description of being part of the colonial excursions.
The colonial project in Afrika has been so successful that Afrikan leaders believe that for their countries to develop economically they should plead with western countries to invest in their countries. During the years of colonialism, the colonial countries used the might of the gun to force Afrikans to surrender their land, their natural resources and their labour for the economic development of the colonial masters. But in the current era of neo-colonialism, where the face of the rulers is Afrikan, the colonialists control the thinking of the Afrikan leaders to continue with the colonial agenda. This is why when Afrikans think of investments, they believe it can only come from outside Afrika.
AZAPO MARCH AGAINST VBS SAGA
On Thursday last week, the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) marched to the office of Limpopo Premier to demand the axing of two MECs implicated in the looting of funds at Venda Building Society, a mutual bank known as VBS.
AZAPO wants Transport and Community Safety MEC Florence Radzilani and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Naledi Kekana to be fired from the provincial government because of their involvement in the VBS scandal. Radzilani was fired by the ANC as Executive Mayor of Vhembe after his party held her responsible for the decision by the Vhembe District Council to invest more than R300 million to VBS.
Kekana, who was the Mayor of Lepelle Nkumpi municipality, was also fired as mayor by the ANC after she was held accountable for her administration that invested millions of rands in VBS.
When the two were fired, it appeared as though the ANC was taking a moral stance on the VBS matter. However, in the latest reshuffle of the provincial cabinet, Premier Stanley Mathabatha appointed Radzilani to his executive council as Transport and Community Safety MEC and Kekana as Sport, Arts and Culture MEC.
Those justifying the appointments argue that Mathabatha had a right to appoint the two because although they had been implicated in the VBS saga, they have not been criminally charged.
But that is exactly the issue. When the ANC fired them as mayors, they had not been charged. The ANC took the decision to protect the party’s integrity following public outrage triggered by the looting of VBS millions.
The looting of the VBS is arguably the lowest point of moral decay of the ANC administration. Ordinary people, poor people, elderly pensioners who had very little of their funds saved at VBS were looted by the elite, many of whom were senior members of the ANC. In order to increase the loot, ANC controlled municipalities in Limpopo were urged to invest millions into the VBS. Those who invested, were given commission payment in cash. The billions that were invested in VBS were then looted in a grand scheme that involved executives of VBS and powerful politicians in the province.
It was also VBS that granted the “loan” to former President Jacob Zuma as he tried to prove that his Nkandla palace had been funded by his own money borrowed from a bank.
But not only money was lost in the VBS saga. Many people who publicly spoke against the VBS looting were assassinated. Among those murdered for speaking out against the looting at VBS are Thabang Maupa, who was a councillor at Fetakgomo Tubatse Local Municipality, Timmy Musetsho and Ronald Mani who were in the leadership of the municipal union, SAMWU.
The organiser of the march by AZAPO Khathutshelo Tharaga told AZAPO Voice that although they marched to demand the axing of the two MECs, they know that the premier would not fire them.
“Our real mission is to expose the truth. The truth is that this government is totally insensitive to the plight of VBS victims. Those who are implicated in the VBS scandal are not just given their jobs back but they have actually been promoted. There are families who lost bread winners because of VBS. There are thousands of people who lost their last savings and burial society money to these thugs in political office. The people must see this government for who they are – uncaring and totally corrupt! That is why we will continue to campaign against this government. It just pays lip service in the so-called fight against corruption,” said Tharaga.
But that is not the worst part. It can be worse. Sources within the ruling party say Radzilani is likely to become the premier should Mathabatha succeeds in his bid for the national chairpersonship of the ANC.
You may ask, why does the ruling party show so much contempt for the voters? The answer is simple. You, the voter have so far displayed amazing tolerance levels to abuse. The abuse will continue for as long as you allow it. If you continue to wallow in self-pity, believing that you are powerless, know you have given consent to misrule and corruption.
ANOTHER FUTILE CAMPAIGN AGAINST RACISM
Media reports that the South African Human Rights Commission will be working with the Education Department to address racism in schools are underwhelming.
It is our view that racism is not an issue that can be dealt with at a workshop. We believe that the government should stop taking a victim posture with regards to racism and adopt an antiracism position through real programs on the ground.
Currently the government only pays lip-service in its fight against racism while its actions entrench racism. The government has largely failed to develop schools that served black children in the townships and in the rural areas. There is poor infrastructure in these schools and the level of teaching and learning is very low compared to the quality of education offered in the former Model C Schools. As a result, there is a stampede of learners who want space in former Model C Schools.
Virtually all the former Model C schools have white teachers and white principals. Only the auxiliary staff such as gardeners and cleaners are Black. On the other hand, schools in Black areas have 100 percent black teaching staff. The learners – both black and white – have to draw a conclusion that schools run by whites are better while those led by blacks offer inferior education. While an argument can be made that there are some black schools that are known to produce good results, the fact that the movement of learners is mainly a one way traffic to former Model C schools proves beyond doubt that former Model C schools offer better education than black schools.
The unequal allocation of resources that entrenches racism, as more resources continue to flow into white establishments, is not only confined to schools. Black universities remain bush universities while traditionally white universities such as Stellenbosch, Wits, Pretoria and Cape Town continue to be better funded and to enjoy superior infrastructure. Of course the plan is not to destroy the good infrastructure to bring it to the same levels as University of the North but to transform the bush universities into centres of academic excellence with infrastructure and quality learning as those meant for whites. That way the white students in Stellenbosch would not feel like the black students are invading their university and think that they have a right to urinate on their laptops and study material. The Afrikaner students would know that the decision to enrol at the so-called white university was not driven by the belief that the black students would be studying at a superior university but just a personal choice as there would be an appreciation that the different universities are at par.
The best way of fighting racism is to explode the myth that white institutions offer better quality than black institutions. The government can take the lead and stop playing victim.