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In the line of fire: The graft wars

I don’t know what offends me more, the stupidity of leaders unable to hide their unethical conduct in legitimate activities; or the stupidity of contractors unable to disguise their unethical conduct with some form of grace and finesse.

A quick look through any newspaper in South Africa will reveal that a very large number of public, civil society and corporate leaders have been linked with unethical conduct that have something to do with creating and improving new business opportunities.

It’s a wonder that we still have people in the public sector at all, given the prevalence of gift giving and the inducements made to public servants to secure goodwill and favourable terms in the allocation and distribution of public resources and opportunities; and the contrast between this status quo and the precepts of the public finance management acts for all of the spheres of government.

Evidently this sort of connection calling is tolerated within society. Some might say that it is an ANC problem or a Cope problem or that it is a Bantustan-TriCam problem. But sifting through the transactions in the Western Cape indicate that some of the DA’s and ID’s supporters have also been industrious in their tender work since March 2006.

The abuse of public office may be endemic to all democracies and indeed political systems but it is clear that even in the absence of procurement power the propensity to solicit bribes is great, provided that the person whom you are squeezing believes that the investment in the relationship will be worthwhile in the long run.

In doing these things you have to be certain that your gimp won’t become someone else’s gimp, simply because that exposes you to the liability of having a colleague know about your graft. The best way to do this is to deliver on what has been agreed upon and in the event that you cannot deliver it, that you are able to show that the bribes paid were insufficient to make the bid competitive.

Without doubt the method of political funding and private commission payments in South Africa is a crude and unsophisticated beast. It languidly advertises its existence in the hope of building the credentials of the contractors as they grow and climb in the corporate arena. It subtlety announces its presence whenever you see executive leaders and public figures at social events — on the campaign trail or in court.

But most of all it is in the cut and thrust of patronage and jockeying that the lines of graft are exposed. It’s never just one person who has to be looked after, is it? I say all of this because I have never submitted a tender for anything. I have never expressed an interest in providing the state with anything. I have never solicited or received a donation for my political or community development work. I have never been part of a tender consortium or a beneficiary of a component of a tender consortium and I have never sought a licence for anything — not even a driver’s licence — after all, if the licences were issued as a result of tender fraud, then the licences themselves are the proceeds of a crime, and the bearer is an unwitting buyer of stolen goods.

But most of all I say all of this because there is a better way to do what needs to be done, a better way to conduct the affairs of a political party and the public service, and indeed a better way to ensure that the right people with the right ethics and the right principles are able to lead without the contemporaneous burden of all of the passengers.

I am left with three options:

  1. Do nothing and watch South Africa become another Zimbabwe, or
  2. Advise the political operators on how to clean up their acts and do things according to the better way, or
  3. Start a new political party and win all of the elections on the basis of these technological advantages for the purpose of implementing these better ways

But instead I have been advised that I should start a “consulting company”, which should then bid for every tender and licence going; in every sphere — provided I have the following …

  • Sufficient political dirt on all of the key decision-makers
  • Sufficient recourse to have non-compliant decision-makers removed from office
  • Sufficient means to be able to contract in and sub-contract out, and ensure delivery of the required services and products, and
  • Sufficient control over the ideological agenda of the state as a whole

Then I will be able to control the system of graft and corruption and by consequence the entire political system in South Africa. I am going to spend the next few days thinking about this and will post my decision in my next blog.

A luta continua, comrades !!!