Corrupt fat cats are enemies of the poor

The Eastern Cape is one of our most beautiful provinces. It is a
place where many of our revered struggle luminaries — Madiba, Chris
Hani, Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo — were born and spent
their formative years.

Fourteen years after the dawn of democracy, it remains one of our
poorest provinces, wracked by Aids and woefully underdeveloped. Little
has changed in the years since the Transkei and Ciskei homelands were
dissolved: the economy in rural areas is stagnant, forcing thousands of
people to go to Cape Town and other urban centres in the hope of
employment. Infrastructure is creaky, while many schools and hospitals
suffer from a severe lack of resources.

Now the explosive Pillay commission report has been leaked,
revealing in chilling detail the pillaging of resources that were
supposed to be utilised to aid the poor. R200-million was pocketed by
party fat cats including our Minister of Sport, the former premier
Makhenkesi Stofile. The provincial minister of economic affairs and
finance at the time, Enoch Godongwana, and the CE of the Eastern Cape
Development Corporation, Mcebisi Jonas, are also implicated. A further
R250-million has disappeared, unaccounted for.

The Daily Dispatch phrases things perfectly in its editorial on the day it published the report:

It is a document that makes for appalling reading
because it illustrates the innate disrespect with which elected
officials held the poor of this province by reallocating funds intended
to uplift the poor.

The Pillay commission report was passed from the now-fired Premier
Nosimo Balindlela to President Thabo Mbeki more than a year ago. No
action has been taken, and the report has not even been officially
released — it has only seen the light of day thanks to a leak to the Daily Dispatch.

What does this mean? That Mbeki was covering for Stofile and his
criminal cronies? Or is Balindlela fibbing when she says she passed on
the report? Either is plausible, especially in the light of the
Presidency’s prevarication over Jackie Selebi.

By refusing to take action on the rampant corruption in its midst,
the ANC is effectively condoning the behaviour of politicians whose
unscrupulous, criminal behaviour reveal a callous indifference to the
future of impoverished South Africans.

Millions of South Africans were oppressed and denied the
opportunities for socioeconomic emancipation by the previous regime.
This is a trend that, for the greater part, the ANC has failed to
reverse. Instead, certain of the movement’s members — as illustrated by
the Pillay commission’s findings — have been using the public purse to
accrue illicit wealth with impunity. This is stealing, and — indicative
of our ruling party’s moral bankruptcy — it seems that such criminality
will go unpunished.

Is it any wonder that we have an endemic crime problem when there
are those in power who are crooks? These criminals are enemies of the
poor. Hani and Biko and the many others who sacrificed their lives
fighting for a better life for all must be turning in their graves.

This was first published on Alex’s Thought Leader column.

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