Angelo Agrizzi has put a new face to the rot of corruption in South Africa. He is forever stuck in our minds as a corpulent manifestation of the excesses he so minutely detailed at the Zondo Commission into State Capture.
But BOSASA, the Guptas, Jacob Zuma and any other high-profile individuals or organisations that emerge from these commissions represent only a part of the corruption story in South Africa. Over the past few years I have worked with and/or mentored several SMME’s – businesses that typically turnover less than R10 million per annum. Each one has told me their own painful stories of how they have had to play the “tender game” to survive. Whether they are in waste management, building, consulting, electrical contracting you name it, if they are supplying government (or indeed the private sector for that matter), they have a story to tell of corruption.
Corruption is our malignant cancer that doesn’t just exist amongst the big players. It has spread into every province, every city, every municipality, town and village. It is a part of South African’s every day, lived reality. It has infected every sector from construction to music (allegedly, bands have to bribe judges to win a SAMA music award.)
This stuff will never make it to the Zondo Commission and most of it will never see a courtroom. But it is killing us. Because corruption is not something we do per se, it has become a part of who we are – of what makes us South African. If you don’t believe me, ask a small business owner. Or easier yet, ask your friends and family.
The good news is that at our end of corruption – the “little people’s” end – there is stuff we can do to put an end to it. You may not like what I am going to say, but if we all do our bit it will help to save our country. We will need to be prepared to spend time in jail if we are caught drinking and driving, because we refuse to pay a bribe. We will need to be prepared to report anyone who asks us for a bribe. I suggest SAPS plus the Corruption Watch hotline 0800 023 456. The more detail we can provide the better. We will need to do the same with our friends and family who are engaged in corruption.
If we are not prepared to tackle corruption ourselves, then we can’t say that the likes of Agrizzi, Watson, Gupta, Zuma or anyone else is solely to blame for the ruin of South Africa at the hands of the corrupt.
We are too.