OPINION | The evil that men do lives on long after them
President JF Kennedy once quoted Edmund Burke as saying “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
South Africa may be gravitating towards a level where rampant corruption is promoted by those good men and women who, in John Milton’s words, “only stand and wait”.
According to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, South Africa reached an all-time high of 73 out of 175 countries, regressing from 71 and a record low of 23 in 1996 under the Mandela rule.
Also the Business Confidence Index most recently stood at 31 where it once recorded its highest of 91 in the early days of our democracy.
Truth be told – some or all of the crimes that have bedevilled our democracy would not have taken place if Burke’s good men had stood up to be counted.
Nearer home, Xhosa poet James Ranisi Jolobe has bewailed the conscience of those who have shirked this greatest test of good citizenry: kwavela enkalweni otyeshel’umsebenzi/ ozithethelelayo ange unyanisile/ imihla kwanezolo akuba engafezi/ kwiimfanelo neendima ezibe zizezakhe/ongonanga ngakwenza osono sikungenzi.
Translated this reads: Appeared from the hilltop, he who shuns his duties/ who defends himself as if honestly/ day by day as he fails/ in responsibilities and tasks which are his/ he whose sin is not that of commission, but of omission.
There’s general unanimity that these crimes are redolent of corruption within the State.
While we are perfectly entitled to applaud and pat ourselves on the back for the great strides we have made since the dawn of democracy, we equally need to be brutally frank about our failures.
We need to look ourselves in the mirror of our progress and confess: ndimhle ngapha, ndimbi ngapha; ndoniwa yile ndawo. [I am fine this side, I am ugly this other side; I am spoilt by this blot].
What are these blots that are spoiling our hard-fought liberation? You will recall that in June 2017, a DRC couple was robbed after leaving the OR Tambo International Airport.
In October of the same year, Iraqi diplomats were robbed at gunpoint after leaving the same airport and their luggage and valuables were taken during the heist. Soon thereafter, in November, tourists were again robbed by men, one of whom was in police uniform.
In this heist, thousands of euros and dollars were taken. What is amazing about these robberies is that they occured in the vicinity of an international airport where security would be top priority.
Commenting on these incidents, the NPA correctly stated: “these crimes are likely to scare away investors which then also puts a strain on our employment rate. As a country, we have high unemployment rates and new jobs cannot be created if these robberies continue unabated.”
When Judge Moegoeng Moegoeng was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, many sceptics thought Zuma was elevating to the high office his own man.
However sooner rather than later Moegoeng proved his mettle, not only as a highly knowledgeable judge but that of an unquestionably independent mind.
However, all can’t be that well at the Constitutional Court as 15 computers were stolen from the building in March 2017. That the more accessible computers on the ground floor of the building were consciously bypassed leaves one questioning the motives behind this burglary.
The next ugly track on this LP (long play) of South Africa’s music festival of corruption was the theft of computers containing sensitive anti-corruption information from the Hawks headquarters in Pretoria in July 2017. This was at a time when many people thought the net was closing in on Zuma regarding accusations of corrupt conduct.
There is also the sound track of two premiers’ offices – one in Bhisho and the other in Johannesburg, emotionally as distant as Paris and London, – catching fire on the same day – June 30 2017. A very strange coincidence.
Again in these incidents, the more accessible files were left unscathed.
The burglaries in police stations and army bases are equally bewildering.
On March 2011, four R5 rifles were hijacked at the Libode police station and in March 2017, 30 guns were stolen from the Peddie police station.
In April 2017, R4 rifles and ammunition were stolen from an army base near Cape Town. Even those who are employed to protect us are not themselves protected!
Ukunyola umbuso ngomnwe esweni [To pierce the finger in the eye of government], we witnessed what cannot happen in the Western world (because of how they cherish their democracy), what cannot happen in the Eastern bloc (because of how high-handed their governments are) and what cannot happen in Africa (because Africans respect authority).
The notorious Gupta family landed their private plane in Waterkloof Air Force base, rightly declared a National Key Point in terms of the National Keypoints Act.
They were attending a wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia.
To rub it in, from Pretoria, their motorcade was escorted by SAPS to Sun City, the venue for the wedding.
Is it beyond imagination that our Air Force bases can be used even by our enemies for landing?
What generation shall we compare ourselves to? We who would make the possible, impossible!
SA was destined to be a great and glorious country. Look at her greatest gift of all – Mandela (Ah Dalibhunga!) God’s second gift to all mankind born here at Qunu – second only to the bequest to us of our Lord Jesus Christ! Think about these things!
While we can’t change the genesis and epoch of South Africa’s existence, together we can change her direction and destiny.
Let us take wisdom from what our forebears taught us: amatshivela mathathu elizweni. NgooAsindim, Andazi, Andikhathali. [Delinquents are only three in the world. They are It’s-not-me, I-don’t-know, I-don’t-care].
Professor Mncedisi Jordan taught and supervised accountancy students at the universities of Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu. He now researches indigenous cultures...