When all is said and done, when Jacob Zuma and the current administration are no longer in power, it will not be for the wasted millions of taxpayers’ money that our country will be mourning. It will be for the damage done to institutions that make our democracy function.
The damage is not so obvious now because those institutions seem functional but when a new administration takes over and wants to effect changes, the damage will then be there for all to see.
Parliament has confirmed that the erstwhile CEO of Eskom, Brian Molefe, will be sworn in this week. After clearing the little hurdle of becoming a member of parliament and swearing to hold the executive accountable, there will be the little matter of a Cabinet reshuffle to get him to be either deputy minister or, more ominously, minister of finance.
A few months ago, Molefe bawled his eyes out on national television protesting his innocence at his name being implicated in the State of Capture report. One would have thought that the president would at least wait for the ink to dry on the report before elevating Molefe to higher office amid all these allegations.
We refuse to learn that an ominously dark cloud hanging over a person’s head is no hindrance to being elevated to higher office. The Hawks are headed by General Berning Ntlemeza, who was found by a high court to have lied under oath.
He was found to be a poor witness in a court of law, lacking in credibility, but he was elevated to head the elite police unit. And he wasted no time in getting his hands dirty, getting involved in battles for the soul of the state.
He was at the centre of the Sars wars when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was slapped with what turned out to be baseless charges that the head of another state entity, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), had to embarrassingly reverse to save face.
Ntlemeza is at the centre of another insidious war for the soul of the SA Police Service (SAPS).
The scariest of battles being fought there include the acting national police commissioner and the head of the Independent Police Investigations Directorate, Robert McBride, who last week told a parliamentary committee of the most bizarre of suicides – an investigator committing suicide by shooting himself in the head, twice!
Independent investigator Paul O’Sullivan has opened case after case against top-ranking police officials. One can safely say that police leadership has been rendered ineffective by all these battles.
The national finance department, the SA Revenue Service, the NPA, the Hawks, the SAPS and even the public protector have all been drawn into battles that continually eat away at their ability to do what they are supposed to be doing on a daily basis.
Individuals with dark clouds hanging over their heads continue to be appointed to key positions in key institutions and it is the damage to those institutions that we will be counting the cost of when the dust settles.
We can continue to draw courage from selfless battles that principled individuals are fighting to preserve these institutions, but the cost will be great when we finally take stock of the damage.