There was something startlingly beautiful about watching the air force put on a beautiful display at the presidential inauguration, having the army give a 21-gun salute in front of a 30 000 strong crowd at Loftus Versfeld.
It was a reassuring show of tradition that told SA that all might not be well, but the business of governing the country must go on.
It was also reassuring that the day before, Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi had taken the nation into her confidence, revealing that things at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were worse than she had initially thought. In her own words, she found a NPA where “the leadership had failed the NPA and the people of South Africa”.
If the president needed reminding that he faces a colossal task, Batohi provided bucketloads of it, a day before his inauguration.
Jarring as it might have seemed, the reminder came right on time for all and sundry to remember that the past decade has been one of destruction of countless state institutions. The embarrassing judgment handed down by the courts against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was another blow that is a glaring reminder that the battle that the president is fighting is not a small one.
Whether by design, conspiracy or unfortunate coincidence, Mkhwebane’s time in office has helped along the devious schemes of the enemies of the state and people of SA. To have her report on the Vrede dairy scandal ruled invalid and unconstitutional not only shows the lows to which her office has sunk, it also plays into the conspiracy theory that she’s part of a fightback by those who designed and implemented state capture.
As if South Africans can’t wish her away quickly enough, she continues in her role of obfuscation with very little restraint. Her battle with Pravin Gordhan has continued unabated, now even going as far as her office suing his personal assistant for a letter he should have delivered to Pravin.
The doggedness with which she has pursued Gordhan makes one wonder about her intentions. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that creating an artificial cloud over Pravin is a way of forcing the president’s hand to not consider him for any Cabinet position.
For Batohi to say she struggles to find people to appoint to senior positions within the NPA because of the way they acted in corruption cases in the recent past just goes to show how widespread the tentacles of state capture were. They reached into every nook and cranny of every state institution.
As he was preparing for his inauguration, Batohi’s words and bold plan to fight back boldly should have been ringing through the president’s mind. The NPA head’s plan to “hit from the top” and “go after the masterminds”, and not only those who implemented state capture, are just what the nation needed to hear.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” sums up the power that comes with the presidency. The beauty of the inauguration belied the ugliness that lies just below the surface, threatening to burst out any day now and derail everything Ramaphosa is putting in place.