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.
“It may not always feel like it but South Africa is in a better place than it was this time in 2017 – and the media played a critical role in getting the country to this point.” Jessica Bezuidenhout: “Journalism in a time of State Capture” Daily Maverick 15 August 2018
I feel extremely challenged as I read the stories of the whistleblowers who brought #GuptaLeaks and State Capture to light. Some of them spoke at this week’s 10XDaily Maverick Media Gathering in Cape Town. The #Guptaleaks pair appeared for the first time in a pre-recorded interview from an unknown location outside South Africa, faces blacked out and voices distorted to protect their identity. Ex-Trillian CEO Bianca Goodson appeared with Eskom’s former head of legal and compliance, Suzanne Daniels. These (extra)ordinary people – amongst many others – risked their lives and careers to help save South Africa from ruin. Then there are the journalists and editors who work with the whistle-blowers to bring their stories into the public domain. This too is gritty work. Without their skill and bravery nothing would come to light.
I feel challenged by these people’s work because – whilst I am enjoying the enormous benefits of living in South Africa – there are people out there putting their lives on the line to ensure that I continue to do so. They have been willing to sacrifice their place in this country – and indeed their personal safety – for you and me. What kind of person is willing to give up everything for their country and their people?
During the Daily Maverick Gathering, SAFM host Stephen Grootes hosted a panel discussion with some of the country’s top media minds; Kate Skinner, executive director of SANEF, Mondli Makhanya, editor at City Press, Adriaan Basson, editor at News24 and Stefaans Brummer from amaBhungane. They all agreed that the role of a free press was as important as ever before and entities such as the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Daily Maverick need our support to keep doing the exceptional investigative work that they are doing.
We can’t all be whistleblowers and journos, but we must get behind these brave South Africans and help them to do the work of upholding democracy. amaBhungane (“…a non-profit newsroom that exposes wrongdoing, empowering people to hold power to account”) and Daily Maverick are doing superb work. Pick one, click on a link below and help to fund them.
This is the best money you will ever spend in terms of an insurance policy for our nation.
Daily Maverick: https://bit.ly/2N2fWPq
Blog image courtesy of the Daily Meverick