FIKILE NTSIKELELO-MOYA: SA's indifference to corruption will be the end of us


I was chatting to a media colleague the other day about how stressed the SA media economy is. It occurred to me that this was a conversation that almost every other industry’s practitioners are having.

I suspect the only ones benefiting from this economy are those in the business of selling miracles, whether by hiding behind religious scriptures or the plain old fashioned confidence tricksters.

Desperate times have a habit of making people believe anyone who claims they can make things better for the distressed – in return for a financial consideration.

South Africa is the classic case of how to cook a frog. We are too chilled for a country where virtually every bit of economic data we get is negative.

A person unfamiliar with our situation would not say that the Auditor-General’s latest report sounds exactly like the one from the previous year, including that nobody has been fired or jailed for using the state purse as their own moneybox.

There surely is a problem when the “positive” news from the Auditor-General’s report is that irregular expenditure is down by just over R4 billion, from R29,7 billion in 2016/17 to R25,9 billion in 2017/18.

Even with the news around us about how municipalities and state-owned-enterprises are failing to keep up with their financial obligations, one does not get a sense that we have a national crisis brewing.

Whenever I have listened to radio talk-shows in the last week, more has been said about the performances of the various sporting teams than has been said about those managing municipalities. Everyone has an opinion about which players and coaches ought to be fired but when it comes to the economy, it is like we are happy to surrender to the wisdom of the "leaders".

We appear to be a nation confidently walking towards our demise. That, for me, is a greater crisis than the fact that we are heading for the precipice.

Individuals hit by economic hardship in the form of business closures, retrenchment and having their homes and possessions, treat these as though it is their bad luck rather than a leadership problem in the state and its agencies.
Political parties sourcing their support from particular communities, such as the Freedom Front Plus, create the false impression that unemployment is a problem that affects only their constituency.

Political parties are able to do this because unlike in the early years of our democracy when civil society formations took to the streets to make their voices heard for a variety of things such as demanding drugs for people living with HIV, we wait for politicians to dictate what needs to happen next.

How and when did we become a nation that is so indifferent to how our country is doing? How is it possible that the last big march we had was about former president Jacob Zuma’s removal, yet we seem comfortable with the patronage system he left behind?

South Africa needs to find its activism. The idea that participation in social affairs is only by voting every five years, cheapens what democracy is about. Participation in social affairs is an everyday thing and every issue is an important issue.

It cannot be that at a time like this, the future of Otis Gibson and Stuart Baxter, the national cricket and football teams’ coaches is more important than the country we are seeing being destroyed by our indifference.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.