The silence of the South African leadership on the ongoing revelations of corruption and subversion of good governance is treasonous.
Since the damning findings of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane against President Cyril Ramaphosa, a conspiracy of silence has developed among the most vocal advocates of anti-corruption.
Where are the business leaders? Where is the church? Where is civil society? Why are the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) speaking so softly that one can hardly hear their muffled voices?
Are all the leaders of South Africa bought like the state president is? Even the media, apart from notable exceptions, has gone into a defensive mode. The media no longer asks ethical questions but seeks justifications in the apparent absence of the law. The narrative being pushed is that there is no law governing intra-party lobbying through money. The ethical question not being asked is this: Is it okay to use money to influence the outcomes of an ostensible democratic process?
Where did the billion rand go? What did those who got a part of the billion rand give in exchange? These are other big questions not being asked.
An even bigger question is what was the return on investment by the donors or investors? A billion rand is serious money for serious services – why is no one asking the president what was the quid pro quo?
The church has been vocal recently questioning so-called state capture processes. But when revelation after revelation shows that the state president is a bought man, the church chooses to look away and hopes the stench will go away.
The state president, in sensing the protective conspiracy of silence, was bold enough to approach a court of law and ask that the extent of his corruption not be revealed. How else must we read a request for concealment of the truth? Lo and behold our courts said that the president indeed has a right to keep his corruption confidential. The rot has become endemic, fed by the strategic silence.
Inside the African National Congress (ANC) leadership no one has yet developed a spin to stand up and speak the uncomfortable truth. No one wants to raise an alarm that the buffalo is naked. The fact that the ANC conference that elected Ramaphosa was a money affair can no longer be denied.
The treasonous silence goes further, even to the vocal self-declared embodiment of ANC values – the so-called ANC veterans.
Ramaphosa ascended to the presidency on the ticket of anti-corruption. It now turns out that he used corrupt means to do so. He seemingly used corruption to end corruption. Yet the entire leadership of the nation has gone silent. This is a betrayal of a people much abused and much lied to.
A clear unflinching message must be sent to the ANC. Since those who are meant to speak have lost their voices, let the people speak. The truth is that the rich bought themselves a state president. The people are without representation. The basis for returning to a president who responds to the people is that Ramaphosa must go!
Money can’t silence us all. The president has violated the sacred covenant that must exist between the people and himself for a legitimate polity to exist. Right now, the president looks increasingly like a mercenary whose legitimacy is only guaranteed by money that has silenced so many. The departure of the president is the only path open to a new bond between the people and their elected head of government.
Mngxitama is the president of Black First Land First and his views are published to advance plurality of opinion.