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Of masks, plasters and open wounds

Jun 14 2017 07:45
Solly Moeng

NOW that all three global rating agencies have downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating and our economy is dangling just a notch from being thrown under the bus by major fund managers;

Now that the avalanche of emails and other revelations seem to be gathering pace as they make their way into the public domain; now that more faces implicated in the phenomenon of state capture have been unmasked;

Now that more South Africans are becoming aware of the extent of the political rot and of the Zupta Ponzi scheme;

Now that some enablers and beneficiaries are said to be surreptitiously seeking legal advice to salvage what is left of their reputation before the inevitable stares them straight in the eyes;

Now that we know with absolute certainty that the politicians we elected to run our precious country have metamorphosed into proxies for a gang of international marauders - it is time for those who still have the wherewithal to save South Africa from crossing the proverbial line of no return to do so, quick.

Many of the key players in the ongoing political Ponzi scheme have already crossed their individual points of reputational no return. But that shouldn’t be our problem.

They will keep wearing their masks, pretending to walk straight; but we’ve begun to see through them. Fear is in the air. They will not show it in their faces, of course; not yet; but they know that they cannot run forever.

Even the semblance of stoicism will eventually wear off. It is just a matter of time before something gives. Something always ends up giving. Their days are numbered. Rest assured, even they know it.

They have to go

Each and every one of the people named in the leaked emails and other sources who still occupy privileged positions in government, state institutions and implicated businesses, starting with Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane, are major obstacles to South Africa’s democratic and socio-economic ambitions.

Forget about any talk of developing an inclusive economy - the buzzword/buzz expression we all agree on - while they remain in their positions. This country cannot move ahead while they keep thinking that they’re indispensable and that we need them to take us out of the mess they caused.

I do not see another way for people like Malusi Gigaba, Lynne Brown and their many friends and sycophants masquerading as senior government officials to successfully deliver a South Africa that can be trusted to be open for business, at home and abroad, with murky clouds hanging over their heads.

The faces they show when facing us and the world are no longer as straight as their bearers believe they are. And no self-respecting audience, here and abroad, will take anything they say seriously.

They cannot be trusted to hold the kind of conversations that will focus solely on the matters of importance for South Africa, without their audiences wondering if the statements they deliver were not drafted elsewhere other than in the legitimate corridors of elected power.

These people probably think the rest of us will get tired of shouting, typing away on our keyboards, marching in the streets, calling in to radio stations, talking on social media and writing to newspaper editors. The crescendo of our collective shock and anger will keep growing until they can no longer ignore it.

Keys to a fresh beginning

To summarise what many frustrated South Africans have been saying; the keys to unlocking a fresh beginning for South Africa cannot exclude the following steps being taken:      

• Change the people at the top, starting with Zuma, either through a snap election (1st choice) or by supporting the no confidence motion against him (2nd choice). No confidence in and goodwill for the country will be generated while they remain in their positions. They have lost all reputational value and credibility;

• Start embracing all bona fide South Africans as potential contributors to making SA great again; stop racially profiling our people unnecessarily. Memorise and repeat several times: "skin colour does not determine character; skin colour does not determine character"...;

• Remove all suspected elements of state capture still embedded in the system, especially in state-owned enterprises and other entities; they are deadly cancerous cells who will metastasise further if nothing gets done;

• Free the NPA, the Hawks, and the Office of the Public Protector from the toxic tentacles of capture and let them investigate without fear or favour those whose names keep appearing in activities against the interests of South Africa. It's not fair to leave it to our overburdened judiciary alone to protect our democracy;

• Drop emotion-laden slogans like 'white monopoly capital' and 'radical economic transformation' and simply rally ALL South Africans, equally, around the economic transformation agenda that will benefit the whole country and lead to a fully inclusive economy. I repeat, drop "radical"; it's threat and blackmail incarnate and it makes many people feel uncomfortable;

• Forget the economic crimes committed under apartheid (The ship that has already sunk) and focus all energy on the crimes - state capture - being perpetrated now against our democratic institutions (the ship that is busy sinking and on which we're all sailing);

• Start over with a new national leadership armed with a fresh (preferably electoral) mandate. Putting plasters on festering wounds and spin on the wounded captured is a waste of limited resources. The current leaders are already over-fed and have a disgusting sense of entitlement to their positions and the benefits that come with them;

• Short of removing the current finance minister, distance him from advisers whose philosophy and public pronouncements go against the spirit of the message government is trying to send to the investor communities. They're an unnecessary distraction;

• Finally, stop talking about introducing confidence generating measures if these will just amount to another Zupta-scripted spin that will take us nowhere. Our country’s image is already hurting. From now on, the climb back will be very steep. Every day wasted is a day too many.

* Solly Moeng is brand reputation management adviser and CEO of strategic corporate communications consultancy DonValley. Views expressed are his own.

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