News / Opinion / Columns

Martin Williams
3 minute read
17 Oct 2018
9:35 am

Let more people see the state capture probe proceedings

Martin Williams

As the story unfolds at the commission, more South Africans will begin to understand how much we have all been cheated by ANC looting.

Former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas appears at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture as a witness to allegations of bribery by the Gupta family during his tenure at the finance department, Johannesburg, 24 August 2018. Picture: Matthews Baloyi / ANA

State capture affects every South African, yet many are still unable to join the dots linking poverty to former president Jacob Zuma and the Guptas. The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is playing a vital role in exposing the truth.

Yet millions of South Africans could remain excluded because they do not have access to the proceedings. People must be able to see and hear these allegations, without the filters applied by editors, analysts and the social media commentariat.

As a public broadcaster, the SABC has a special role here. While commercial and subscription TV channels may have influence, their reach is dwarfed by the SABC’s radio audience, estimated at more than 30 million.

So it is interesting to note the SABC’s response to a DA request for proceedings to be aired live on the corporation’s terrestrial platforms. The terrestrial TV station with the biggest reach is SABC 1, which should be included in the list of those broadcasting the state capture proceedings. The SABC said the inquiry “is receiving extensive coverage across all bulletins, radio stations and television channels under the direction of the SABC’s editorial staff”. Bulletins are not quite the same as live coverage.

Is that acceptable from a public broadcaster? Too often such information and discussion are limited to an elite which may have little connection with the poor, who are the main victims when state coffers are plundered. As DA leader Mmusi Maimane (Sunday Times, October 14) points out, there are insiders – “people with jobs, good education and access to opportunity” – and the rest. The inquiry is about the theft of public money. It’s taxpayers’ money which should have been spent on poverty alleviation, social welfare and infrastructure.

This means schools, clinics, hospitals, dams, roads, taxi ranks, train stations, etc, in line with the developmental state envisaged by the National Development Plan. An ANC government which fails to provide safe toilets for poor school children has let pupils die face-down in pit latrines, while an elite plundered at least R100 billion of public money.

Corruption within the ANC is not limited to names already publicised. The disease festers in government departments at every level, national, provincial and municipal. The Free State’s infamous Vrede dairy farm, where money intended for poor farmers ended up paying for a lavish Gupta wedding, is an example.

The ANC’s policy of cadre deployment, and pervasive culture of “our time to feed”, provides a perfect setting for theft from the poor. As the story unfolds at the commission, more South Africans will begin to understand how much we have all been cheated by ANC looting. Cadres are still stealing our future.

We need transparency and accountability, in line with the constitution and other legislation. For example, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act seeks to “create a culture of accountability, openness and transparency in the public administration”.

Broadcasting the state capture inquiry proceedings to a wider audience will help create such a culture, which is vital if South Africa is to recover from the Zuma years.

Martin Williams, DA councillor.

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