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SELLO LEDIGA: Recalling Bruce Koloane a victory for ethical governance

OPINION

Soon after Bruce Koloane appeared at the Zondo Commission into state capture, we, as the Patriotic Movement of South Africa, launched a campaign for the government to recall him as our ambassador to the Netherlands. Koloane confessed at the commission that he, as head of protocol in South Africa, authorised the illegal landing of the Gupta plane at our Waterkloof national key point, compromising the security of our state for a private wedding.

As a movement, we felt that the confession of Koloane was tantamount to treason and that such a figure was totally unfit to represent our country anywhere in the world. That is what motivated us to launch the "RECALL KOLOANE NOW" campaign.

What angered us about the Koloane episode is that instead of being censured and disciplined for his abominable conduct, he was promoted to ambassador of our country to the Netherlands under the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

This is the problem with the ANC government. Cadres who loot public resources, or are guilty of some misdemeanour in the public service, are rewarded for their misconduct by being redeployed from one area of the public service to the other. This government is as arrogant as it is unethical.

However, in the world of our democratic government, this is normal as the interests of corrupt cadres trump those of the ordinary citizen. As a citizenry, we have been abused for so long that we have come to accept our fate as the will of God. The people of South Africa, the voters in particular, must be conscientised and outraged by this government malpractice. As a citizenry, we have sheepishly accepted this outrageous practice without protest or action. This must change.

In response to the Koloane affair, we launched a media campaign and online petition for the recall of Koloane. We first wrote to the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor, to recall Koloane from the Netherlands as he was ethically compromised . Although we received no response from the minister, she addressed the matter in the media by stating that she was discussing the matter with the president to look at the fitness of Koloane in representing SA in Europe.

We are elated as the Patriotic Movement that president Ramaphosa and Pandor have acted in the best interests of the country by recalling Koloane. We must continue to demand ethical leadership from our government and the president has set a good example with Koloane. This must be emulated in the future when we are faced with the same challenge of rewarding corrupt and unethical conduct with redeployment elsewhere in our beloved country.

Rest assured, the Patriotic Movement will remain vigilant and every time government rewards corruption and unethical conduct by redeploying corrupt elements to other sectors of the civil service, we will be there to mobilise the people and campaign against such bad governance.

The Koloane affair must mean something for the future. For far too long the government has displayed arrogance by abusing its office to reward party cadres guilty of this or that misconduct. The list is too long to mention. It is now time that we, the people, take responsibility and bring to an end abuse of our resources and allowing government to continue satisfying the selfish and corrupt interests of scoundrels tarnishing the image of our public service.

Every time a scoundrel is redeployed from one government department to another, we must resist that by organising and confronting those responsible for the transfer as we did with Koloane. We must demand ethical conduct from our government.

The greatest setback we have had in this country since the birth of democracy was to demobilise the powerful civil organisations that were in the forefront of the struggle against apartheid. In the last 25 years we surrendered our powerful position in society to political parties, especially those that led the struggle against apartheid. We wrongly thought that the end of apartheid would usher in an era of freedom, justice, peace and ethics. How wrong we were.

What has happened in South Africa is that the struggle against racism has been replaced by the struggle against corruption. The very same leaders who led the struggle against apartheid are now key players in corruption. So, the long-suffering people of South Africa, 25 years into democracy, find themselves confronted with a new enemy, state capture and corruption.

The good news in South Africa today is that civil society is once again rousing from its long slumber. Patriotic South Africans of all hues, black and white, are coming together to confront the spectre of state capture.

The political system, based on our democratic constitution, is broken with the popular ruling party engaged in self-destructive factionalism. The party of Oliver Tambo is in a death spiral from which there is apparently no escape. The party of liberation, after 25 years in power, has not only led the country to an economic meltdown, it has practically bankrupted the state, especially in the last decade.

Sadly, the African National Congress appears to be the only party capable of holding the state together despite its follies. The opposition in South Africa today is in a pathetic state and incapable of providing a credible alternative to the ANC.

The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, is a shadow of its former self under the feeble leadership of Mmusi Maimane. The long-distinguished liberal tradition of Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin, Zach de Beer, Tony Leon and Helen Zille has given way to mediocrity.

The third largest party in Parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters, remains a recklessly populist one-man show led by tinpot dictator. Its leader, Julius Malema, the self-styled Commander-in-Chief, is a morally depraved graduate of the ANC corruption institute. Malema's populist and racist message, covered by allegations of personal corruption and looting of money of the poor, is poisonous and cannot offer an alternative to the ailing ruling party.

Other opposition parties are so small they have become irrelevant. It is in this context that civil society is re-awakening to save the country from certain collapse.

Encouraging signs of an emerging and powerful civil society movement are evident all over the country. It is civil society, the media and the judiciary that have escaped the claws of the ruinous Jacob Zuma presidency that has seriously damaged the democratic project.

The Kathrada Foundation, Patriotic Movement, Helen Suzman Foundation, Freedom Under Law, Equal Education, Section 27, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the South African Communist Party, and many others, are mobilising against corruption and state capture. They have scored some important victories in holding government accountable and particularly using the courts to curtail the excesses of an uncaring and looting government.

This work will only bear fruit if all South Africans begin to realise that their future lies in their own hands and that they have it within themselves to hold government accountable and contribute to the war against corruption and state capture.

What this country has lost and what the civil society movement must reclaim is ethical conduct throughout society. The ruinous and corrupt administration of president Zuma has broken our political system and entrenched corruption throughout society. Ethics has lost meaning in an environment of wanton looting, self-enrichment, moral depravity and worship of money.

The people of this country must unite to promote positive universal values of accountability, freedom, love, caring, solidarity and moral uprightness. This should be the agenda of a new and inclusive civil society movement. As the Patriotic Movement, we will be there to make our little contribution in creating a more caring and ethical South Africa. The People Shall Govern.

Sello Lediga is a social commentator, author and CEO of the Patriotic Movement of South Africa, a civil society organisation that promotes patriotism.

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