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By Sydney Majoko

Writer


Chris Hani’s words have never rung truer

Entitlement to public office gives thugs and criminal tenderpreneurs the gumption to resort to deadly means to gather their riches.


"What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of the country to live in palaces and gather riches.” This quote is ascribed to Chris Hani, the assassinated South African Communist Party and ANC leader. When he said these words in 1992, the ANC had not come into power and he was expressing what he feared could happen to the leaders of the movement when they took power. It emerged this past week that in the revised Ministerial Handbook, members of the executive will not be paying for electricity and…

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“What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of the country to live in palaces and gather riches.” This quote is ascribed to Chris Hani, the assassinated South African Communist Party and ANC leader.

When he said these words in 1992, the ANC had not come into power and he was expressing what he feared could happen to the leaders of the movement when they took power.

It emerged this past week that in the revised Ministerial Handbook, members of the executive will not be paying for electricity and water. Hani’s words have never rung truer.

The words cannot be taken too literally and if a minister or his deputy can afford to pay for their own luxurious lifestyle, no one should stop them. But creating conditions for themselves to afford these luxuries through avoiding to pay for basic life necessities that every South African pays for is exactly what Hani was referring to: “Using resources of the country to live in palaces and gather riches.”

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And Hani was not some 16th-century mythological overhyped leader who wished for a life free of frills. He was a leader who shared spaces with the current crop of leadership of the ruling party, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, who signed off on the handbook that legitimises the gravy train.

If free lights, water and luxury cars seem frivolous benefits that the country should never be up in arms about, then it gets more serious, for the president and his Cabinet in the last part of Hani’s quote: “Gathering riches.”

Again, there is nothing wrong with an official using their resourcefulness to gather riches. Being entrepreneurial is a human endowment. But there is everything wrong if a politician leverages their office for their own benefit. It is even more deplorable when the means to amass those riches are based on the siphoning off of money meant to provide services for the poor, as is the case in the looting of money at the Tembisa Hospital.

This looting not only happened on a grand scale, but it also resulted in the death of whistle-blower Babita Deokaran. Although the case is still under investigation by the Special Investigating Unit, News24 has uncovered how uncomfortably close to the highest seat of power in the land those that are said to be looting Tembisa Hospital are.

The hospital had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, such as when Shonisani Lethole was denied food for over 100 hours before his death in 2020. While Lethole was starving to death at the hospital, those who wield political power through their familial connections to even the president, as is alleged, were calling the hospital’s accounts office to expedite payments running into millions to themselves.

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Exactly 30 years have passed since Hani uttered those prophetic words and lives have been lost in the process of “liberators” acquiring wealth and living in palaces for which they even want to be legally excused from paying even a single cent.

It is that attitude to public office that gives thugs and criminal tenderpreneurs the gumption to resort to deadly means to gather their riches. They feel as entitled to them, just as the politicians feel entitled to free water and electricity.

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