Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why even the Constitutional Court hasn't put an end to the scandal of Nkandla

The difficulty with the media’s sustained campaign against President Zuma is it suggests that if we can somehow get rid of the man all will be well. Is the president, along with the earlier scandals the ANC massaged away for him, personally responsible for Nkandla? Yes, of course he is, but as the head of a declaredly democratic ANC government, not for the cost of the window fastenings or even the notorious swimming pool.

If Nkandla were only about the items the Public Protector reported on, President Zuma could easily enough raise the two or three million rand to pay for them out of his own pocket. But Nkandla has always been about far more than his improper benefits and their price.

It is about a total lack of state system, supervision and management. It is about a civil service that lacks competence and confidence, training and professional standards. It involves a culture in which the local Big Man shares largesse with his 'people' in a traditional exchange of favours. It is about the three modern 'estates' of business, unions and government sticking together through thick and thin.

Above all, it is about the one-party state, which enables individuals and government, assured always of servile party support, to ignore the law and all accepted norms of democracy without any come-back.

When President Zuma goes, as he will and maybe sooner than we think - remember how former president Thabo Mbeki suddenly went overnight when it suited a handful of people at the top - South Africa still faces a massive journey before it becomes a democratic society. The hope is Nkandla has at least been the first real step on the way.