Friday, January 30, 2009

As the looting sets in

In his superb analysis of how we got into the mess we’re in, Brian Pottinger writes in The Mbeki Legacy (Zebra 2008), of the possibility that South Africa could descend into what he describes as a “fully fledged gangster state”.

Pottinger relates how corruption in many liberated African states has become so entrenched as to form what he calls a “proxy state” which operates alongside and often in collaboration with the formal state.

As society adapts to this way of getting things done it becomes increasingly difficult to root it out. Pottinger explains the difference which then arises between what the sociologist Peter Berger describes as “good” and “bad” corruption.

Pottinger explains that if, for example, an official took R100 to fa
cilitate the registration of one’s car and then took the fee of, say, R230 and paid it over to the state, then the cost of the corruption was R100. That’s “good” corruption. But if the official took the R100 and did not charge the state’s fee of R230 then the corruption “cost R230 more than the cost of the corruption”. That’s “bad” corruption.

“Cumulatively, then, the surplus over the cost of corruption equals the billions of dollars stolen in post-colonial Africa and which has led to its marginalisation for decades.”


Man is infinitely adaptable so as corruption becomes a way of life it poses a dilemma for any government taking a stance against it once it has taken hold. Pottinger writes:

“If the government reduces the proxy state, it courts the certain consequence of a further decline in service output.” In other words, without corruption to oil the wheels in a corrupt state, service delivery slows down, corrupt officials demand more pay and taxes rise.

But if the state allows corruption to grow, as has happened throughout the continent, “it cedes greater influence and power to external authority and (in SA’s case) further challenges the way in which it has implemented its affirmative action policies”.

A decisive step on the path to gangster status for our country is surely the decision to close down the Scorpions just as, Pottinger writes, they are “poised to
proceed against the highest and the mightiest in the political and administrative spheres”.

It sometimes seems that criminal behaviour, far from being a cause for regret and shame, is almost a badge of honour in the ANC. Remember how Tony Yengeni was fêted when he delivered himself into the care of Correctional Services.

Even the then Speaker of the House was there to cheer on the hero as he entered prison to serve time for accepting an arms deal bribe.

She is now our Deputy President, which probably means that, escorted by fleets of blue-light limos, she will not have to cheat to get a driver’s licence as she once did.

And it does not end there. We have the many Travelgate criminals who abused taxpayers’ money for their personal and family benefits.

More recently, there is the matter of that farcical Parliamentary committee reviewing (ha, ha) the decision of President Kgalema Motlanthe to fire Vusi Pikoli, suspended head of the NPA who had the temerity to want to charge suspended police chief, Jackie Selebi, dear friend of the execrable Glen Agliotti.

This committee, dominated, of course, by the ANC, has selected one Oupa Monareng as its co-chairman.

Now, there is hardly a South African who hasn’t been asked for a bribe by a traffic cop.

Monareng, however, actually offered a bribe to an officer who had apprehended the eminent parliamentarian driving a stolen BMW in 1996.

His guilt was established in court, but here he is shamelessly striding the public platform.

A looter continua.

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