Saturday 15 May 2021
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State capture and the betrayal of the ideals of liberation

Jacques Pauw’s THE PRESIDENT’S KEEPERS (2018) is a sordid, odious and revolting story of post-Apartheid South Africa under President Jacob Zuma.
The book is a portrayal of greed, corruption and State capture. Jacques Pauw states that President Zuma had been infected by the most noxious disease of politics, that is, greed.
Pauw defines greed as “… a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough”.
The book portrays President Zuma as a person who was not able to handle his finances.
As a result, his life style was funded by dubious benefactors who in return expected the President to reward them with lucrative State tenders.
Thus, a system of patronage and cronyism inevitably emerged. The pollical landscape in South Africa became littered with smear campaigns against perceived enemies.
A shadow State within a State developed.
There was an elected government and there was a shadow unelected government.
The unelected government made of the likes of Gupta brothers, suspected tobacco smugglers, under-world figures and pollical cronies controlled the actions of the President.
This shadow government decided on political appointments of the elected government. The shadow government was bases on the understanding of “you look after me and I will look after you”.
It operated through deal making, back stabbing, plotting of others’ down fall and by creating common interest alliances. Such behaviour compromised the independence of key government institution such as the South African Revenue Services, the National Prosecution Authority, the National Intelligence Agency and a score of State – Owned Enterprises.
As a consequence, law enforcement agencies became politicised and compromised.
The President became beholden to his benefactors, some of them people of dubious character.
The struggle against Apartheid was inspired by the Freedom Charter of June 25-26, 1955 which was adopted at Kliptown, Johannesburg. The freedom Charter declared among many ideals that South Africa belongs to all who live in it and that the country will only be prosperous if all the people of South Africa are free and live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities.
Through the Freedom Charter the people of South Africa pledged to strive together sparing neither strength no courage in order to bring about a democratic state.
In 1994, a new South Africa was born. One would have expected that the new South Africa would uphold the ideals of the Freedom Charter and implement its noble democratic demands.
These democratic demands proclaimed that the people shall govern; the national groups shall have equal rights; the people shall share in the country’s wealth; the land shall be shared among those who work on it; all shall be equal before the law; all shall enjoy equal human rights; there shall be work and security; the doors of learning and culture shall be open; there shall be houses, security and comfort; and there shall be peace and friendship.
The Freedom Charter proclaimed: “ … These freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty.” What went wrong with the post- liberation leadership in Africa?
During the liberation struggle as freedom fighters we led frugal lives.
We were each- other’s keepers! We were not motivated by personal interests. We fought for common public good.
We were inspired by the ideals of social justice, freedom and solidarity.
What happen to South Africa under the leadership of President Zuma was an extreme form of personal greed and corruption. In its form it is not different from experiences in all our countries after liberation.
Here in Namibia, politics has become synonymous with money and opulent life styles of pollical actors. If one aspires for a political office, one has to have deep pockets to buy votes.
Politics is no more about public service. Politics now is about self-enrichment.
The African liberation ideals have been betrayed.
The sacrifices of the freedom fighters are being forgotten. Greed has captured the political landscape in all our countries after liberation. At independence the first crop of political leaders believed in public service and socio-economic progress.
Schools were built, hospitals were renovated, water system were established in rural areas, roads were built, and communities were mobilised to be self-reliant.
There was a sense of purpose and commitment to duty.
Change was in the air in all sectors of national life.
Many of the institutions we created are now white elephants not because they have no utility value, but because those who are in charge do not understand their value.
If Africa was going to make progress there is an urgent need to rekindle the urgency of progress. Leaders should be guided in their thought and action by the idea of progress.
Progress comes about through sacrifices. African leaders seem to have no idea of differed gratification.
They are driven by the idea of here and now, today not tomorrow. Progress demands that we invest our efforts today in order to have a better harvest tomorrow.
The story of South Africa under President Zuma should be a lesson to voters in all our countries. Do not just vote for someone because he or she sings well or dances well.
Vote for substantive ideas and solid character.
This is the only way to save our countries from greed and corrupt politicians. Jacques Pauw’s The Presidents Keepers is a must read for all those who care about the future of Africa!
It is a wake- up call for reflection on African leadership. Africa must reject the politics of gluttony!

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