We should ask ourselves what the main preoccupation of an average member of Parliament in South Africa is. Is it to ensure that a particular investigation takes place so as to benefit the poor? Or, are our MPs worried about defeating investigations that could expose their allies who pay for their houses, writes Ralph Mathekga.
At some point South Africans are going to have to take
a hard look at themselves and take responsibility for having allowed political
leaders to debase and denigrate the country’s institutions, including Parliament.
The evidence presented before our eyes shows that an
increasing number of our lawmakers are implicated in wrongdoing or benefiting
from proceeds of wrongdoing.
If a significant number of lawmakers in Parliament
turn out to be law breakers, then we as a nation should take responsibility as
accomplices to the wrongdoing. This is simply because we as a nation decide
what is tolerable and what should be punishable in our society.
Reports about the looting of VBS show that our
politicians do not see anything wrong from unduly benefiting from the system
they are supposed to correct. Both senior EFF and ANC members are respectively
implicated in the looting of VBS.
Parliament is supposed to be the cornerstone of
accountability; where tough questions are asked to those who exercise power. It
appears however that those who exercise power in South Africa are a step ahead,
having seen the importance of paying out MPs so they stop asking silly
questions about VBS, for example.
Right now Parliament is simply incapable of processing
the VBS matter due to the fact that MPs are implicated across the board.
Instead of opening a proper inquiry into VBS, efforts are made to filibuster
the process and deflect attention by raising counter scandals that need to be
The standard response that comes from politicians confronted
with allegations of impropriety is no longer to deny the fact, but to simply
insinuate that others are also doing wrong things that need to be investigated.
Put simply, there is always a bigger thief next door.
This has become the story of post-colonial African
leaderships; stay out of it and leave my thief to me, I’ll sort them out
The DA is no exception to all of this, with the party’s
mayors in Tshwane and Johannesburg respectively engaging in decisions that
would undermine the party’s stance against wrongdoing. DA leader Mmusi Maimane
is now caught in a housing scandal, involving the rental of a house from a
businessman under very hazy terms. This means that Maimane can no longer
confront EFF leader Julius Malema when it comes to the allegations that Malema
lives rent free.
When it comes the residential living arrangements, Malema
and Maimane are in the same WhatsApp group; they are even. This would not
matter if the two were not the most powerful MPs leading the opposition in Parliament.
At a conference on constitutionalism I attended last
week at Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Advanced Studies, one Ghanaian
professor mockingly suggested that African countries should just democratise
corruption because there are no real prospects of doing away with it. Well,
corruption is inherently meant to benefit the few at the expense of many.
Therefore, corruption cannot be realistically democratised, even if the EFF,
the DA, and the ANC tried to democratise it among themselves.
One thing that always preoccupy my mind when I look at
the phenomenon of corruption is that it has a peculiar way of infesting
institutions of democracy in post liberation societies such as ours. In our
society, corruption exists within the political economy of distribution. Those
who attain undue benefits often argue that it is their turn to eat, and their
followers should just shut up and wait for their turn as well. The reality is
that the cake is never big enough to sustain an equitable share of corruption
We should ask ourselves what the main preoccupation of
an average member of Parliament in South Africa is. Is it to ensure that a
particular investigation takes place so as to benefit the poor and vulnerable?
Or, are our MPs worried about defeating investigations that could expose their
allies who pay for their houses and other trinkets?
Looking at the current composition of Parliament, we
should ask the basic questions about whose interests are our MPs concerned
about when they first wake up in the morning.
– Dr Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa’s Turn.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views.The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.