South Africa Leaders Abusing Freedom for Personal Gain

South Africa Mbeki and Zuma

The abuse of freedom for personal gain by the leaders of South Africa has again reared the dark side of democracy;  a combination of whether to impeach or protect Jacob Zuma from the Nkandla Scandal is debated.

Thabo Mbeki a former president of South Africa spoke out against the sacrifice of freedom for personal gain and criticized people in powerful positions who abuse the democracy.

Mbeki said it is regrettable that after twenty years of liberation people in society have forgotten the human cost of freedom. People abuse the gift of freedom and abuse the freedom for personal gain, Mbeki said. The use of social powers, state and corporate funds needed to maintain a better life for all the people is ignored and abused.

Mbeki did not mention names of people who abuse funds thereby avoiding a personal attack on anyone. Mbeki possibly referred to the Zuma scandal and the tender entrepreneurship. Government tender contracts have in the past raised suspicions about political party controlled companies being awarded these tenders for self-enrichment. Stories circulating this week mentioned the tender by Transnet for ZAR50 billion whereby a few connected individuals will make a large profit. It’s a shocking story about the tender awarded to a connected party to the tune of ZAR23million to fix potholes on a small stretch of road. Workers were paid R13 per hour to repair the road, which eventually is falling apart again.

Tribalism is another factor that perpetuates corruption, said the former president Mbeki. The tribalism is rife within the government and is used as a tool by politicians to reward some and influence others. Conspiring in one language was the challenge to overcome. Mbeki said the African National Congress (ANC), formed 102 years ago, had a mandate to “bury the beast of tribalism” and after all these years tribalism is raising its dark head is not helping.

For many years, the African continent has tried to secure the peace and stability and the problem persisted because of lack of intellectual input. Progress is slow and more problems have risen rather than being reduced. A massive challenge ahead for most African countries trying to eliminate poverty and underdevelopment have not made progress, and the problems must be tackled with the appropriate academic tools. Tanzania has made progress in addressing the tribalism and poverty problems by introducing Swahili as the official language. The discontinuation of traditional chiefs had a significant impact on progression of achieving social cohesion. South Africa has the potential of achieving the same success abolishing a serious corruption within its borders by following the Tanzanian lead.

While acting as the president of South Africa, Mbeki sacked Jacob Zuma as his deputy for corruption At that time, Julius Malema the founder of the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) lambasted Mbeki for this action by saying he made the biggest mistake in history. Since forming his political party Malema attacks Zuma and has called for his impeachment over the Nkandla scandal. During that time, Mbeki bold enough to take a stand against corruption did not help is political career.

Mbeki as president of South Africa remained a diplomatic firm favorite yet his own flaws regarding the Aids virus and part of the arms deal, which still is not finalized, did little to save his political career. Mbeki, according to most South Africans,  is an intellectual giant with higher moral standards compared to his successors. Mbeki is still a senior member of the ANC and has retained considerable support over the past years. The question is whether Mbeki would have a positive impact to fight corruption within the government structures since his own name is tarnished through shady deals.

The Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota said when Mbeki was forced out of office was the day South Africa would regret. Lekota went on to say that South Africa is not a happy country. Lekota serviced under the Mbeki administration and in 2008 left the ANC after Mbeki stepped down as president. He said the Zuma government had racked up trillions of rands in debt and wasted billions each year.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Inkatha Freedom Party said the Zuma administration was quick to make promises and astonishingly slow on deliveries. He said the current administration has failed the people of South Africa. Buthelezi said words of freedom, reconciliation and transition, and reconciliation filled the air twenty years ago, and under the Zuma leadership, the only words uttered are scandal, Marikana, corruption and protest.

Buthelezi said the ANC party became hideously transformed over the years, and that it is not the party he had respected. He went on to say that the elections either would deliver South Africa from its current corrupt condition or will die. While delivering his speech in parliament on the Nkandla scandal, several ministers in cabinet leaped to the defense of Jacob Zuma. Naledi Pandor, Home Affairs Minister, said Zuma was right about South Africa and there is a good story to tell. She said the tremendous political, social and economic reform is a good story.

Zuma remains well supported by most of his cabinet ministers and ousting him as president will be a difficult task to achieve. South Africa is rapidly losing its luster as the rainbow nation and becoming a nondescript nation.

By Laura Oneale


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