Former finance minister Trevor Manuel says putting a halt to South Africa’s drug addiction problem would probably prove to be much better than dealing with the scourge of government corruption, which he describes as “incredibly difficult” to control.
Speaking to EWN, Manuel condemned corrupt officials he said lived off the “proceeds of corruption”, saying they should be jailed for stealing from the poor.
“I think we are at a very low end now. There are all kinds of people who creep out of the woodwork to make spurious allegations about other people, avoiding the fact that there are a series of instances that do reflect particular parts of government are very captured. And the problem about being involved in corruption and so on is that it is hard to extricate yourself from it.
“It may be easier I think, if you were a drug addict, once you reach a point and say: ‘I’m ready to go to rehab, to live through whatever the chemical reordering you have to live through and emerge on the other side,’ and say: ‘Now I’m going to be clean’,” he said.
The ANC veteran told the news service he saw no chance of the liberation party recovering from its electoral losses during last month’s municipal elections under its current leadership.
“If you have lived off the proceeds of corruption, you have acquired a lifestyle that you can’t normally afford, and it becomes very difficult to step off that. If you’ve had a stream of ill-gotten gains that has come to you, in addition to your salary, on an ongoing basis, you now live in a house that you couldn’t normally afford, you drive cars, your children are empowered in a way that you couldn’t actually provide for them off a normal salary.
“To call a halt to that voluntarily seems to be incredibly difficult and much more difficult than dealing with a problem of drug addiction.”
Manuel also said South Africans needed to have a broader conversation around corruption, saying there must be consequences for those who engage in graft.
“People must go to jail for stealing from the poor. I don’t think we must second-guess this stuff; people must go to jail because when they steal they don’t steal from the wealthy in society … I think it’s contradictory to everything we believe about whose interest should be represented by government.”