South Africa is not at war, fortunately, but the crisis of corruption has us teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy with the countless shameless thefts from the public purse. This week’s decision by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to call for a postponement of the medium-term budget enlightened us all on the dire financial crisis South Africa is facing. The looting of the public purse — from state-owned entities, multibillion-rand national tenders and even to the kitty at a local municipality in the outskirts — has ransacked our fiscus and left us with less than enough to go around. This did not happen overnight.
An August report compiled by the ANC in the provinces and sent to the party’s national executive committee paints a grim picture of just how endemic corruption has become in the ruling party, and in our country.
Everyone has a hand in it, from councillors who rob old women of their pension money, to mayors who contributed state funds to the VBS heist, which then disappeared into various scoundrels’ pockets, to premiers who oversaw millions signed away in dodgy deals.
For years there have been no repercussions. No money has been recouped from the billions stolen by the Gupta brothers and many public servants have seen this as their ticket to do the same.
Just this week more than 5 500 Eskom employees have been flagged by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for, among other things, not declaring their financial interests and doing business with the entity. More than 130 employees did business with Eskom to the tune of R6-billion. About R44‑million in kickbacks connected to the Kusile power station, the SIU said, were paid to four Eskom officials.
A former SAA cabin attendant, Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, was arrested on charges of fraud amounting to more than R100‑million. Married to one of the top generals in the army, she was awarded two multimillion-rand South African National Defence Force contracts to transport equipment from other African countries to South Africa.
There are many like Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu who have exorbitantly inflated their prices; pocketed state funds and never delivered services; paid bribes and milked the public purse. Now there is nothing left. Neither banks nor lending institutions will give the country money, even if only to ensure we have a bigger social safety net, let alone the R10‑billion for the country’s SAA vanity project.
The chickens have finally come home to roost. There is no money because of the years of looting and corruption. If we do not end this looting, it will surely end us.