South Africa: Mired in corruption?

21 August 2012

11:36 AM

21 August 2012

11:36 AM

On the 5th of August Mary Robinson delivered the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Cape Town. It should have been an occasion when the former Irish President and UN Human Rights Commissioner looked back on South Africa’s achievements since the end of apartheid. Yet her speech will probably be remembered for just one sentence: ‘…the ANC’s moral authority has been eroded, tainted by allegations of corruption; a temporary betrayal of its history.’

From an old friend of the ruling party this was damning indeed, but is she right to refer to corruption as a ‘temporary betrayal?’ The ANC’s history is more complex and more difficult than supporters like Mrs Robinson are prepared to acknowledge. We now know that even in exile the party had corrupt relationships and forged links with organised crime.

The late Joe Modise, head of the ANC’s military wing used rank and file fighters to run a series of criminal activities, including the distribution of drugs and the theft of cars. It was hardly surprising then that Modise, as South Africa’s first Minister of Defence, was deeply implicated in the notorious arms deal. The decision to spend between $6bn and $8bn on weaponry was driven by an estimated $300m of bribes, with Modise taking his share.

Nor was Modise alone. President Thabo Mbeki’s right hand man, Frank Chikane, recently revealed that drugs traffickers made contact with senior members of the ANC during their years in exile.


These included Jackie Selebi, South Africa’s former chief of police, who was subsequently jailed for corruption. Among the charges against him was the selling of British Customs and Excise intelligence to the convicted drugs trafficker, Glenn Agliotti.  In a lecture in July this year, Chikane said that these links went back many years. ‘Criminals planned your future,’ he told his audience. ‘Check who visited us and people in Lusaka and who brought money to assist the ANC. That’s when Jackie Selebi made contact with Glenn Agliotti.’

While these links may oil the wheels at the highest level, bribery and corruption is now endemic across government.  The Auditor General’s most recent report suggested that only 5 per cent of all municipalities could be certified ‘clean’. Government tenders are routinely awarded to party members, many of them ‘deployed’ by the ANC to their posts, with little regard for their expertise or qualifications.

Jeremy Cronin, the deputy head of the ANC’s ally, the South African Communist Party, recently explained the system using the analogy of snakes and ladders: ‘If you land on the right square, by securing a regional chairpersonship in the ANC for instance, you might suddenly find yourself on a heady upward ascension. But if you lose your footing, you are liable to fall rapidly down a very long snake, back to zero and abject poverty.’

On the face of it South Africa is a functioning democracy with regular, free elections, a robust press and a powerful judiciary. But beneath this veneer darker forces are at play, fuelling internal party conflicts.

Who Rules South Africa attempts to look at who really pulls the levers of power.

Who Rules South Africa by Martin Plaut and Paul Holden is published by Biteback Publishing, at 14.99. Available at a special price of £9.99 

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good thought.

  • Niall MacDonald

    How sad to read the commentaries below. SA is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a 1st world infrastructure and mixed race South African population the majority of whom love their country. Be it white Afrikaners or black Zulus, Xhosas or any one of the multiplicity of tribes or mixed race people that inhabit this great land, they have all shed blood in building this country. With its relatively small population and vast mineral wealth it could become the Singapore or indeed USA of Africa. However the corruption of a few politicians or historical prejudices is in the way as it is in most Western democracies. If only Nelson was 40 years younger, he would surely have turned this country into one of the great democracies in the world. The world is a mess, SA is a mess but for SA the problem is resolvable given the inherent wealth of the country and it’s great people who despite colour and political factions are all South Africans, if only they could realise this and follow the example of their great sporting teams and sportsmen and sportswomen? Please stop driving the country looking in the rear mirror but rather look forward and capitalise on the assets of the country, educate your people and drive out political factions and poverty.

  • Wilhelm

    A Warning to America from South Africa

    ”The Third World is different – different peoples with different pasts and different cultures. Yet Westerners continue to mistake the psychology of the Third World and its peoples. Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe are perfect examples of those mistakes. Sierra Leone is in perpetual civil war, and Zimbabwe – once the thriving, stable Rhodesia – is looting the very people (the white men) who feed the country. Yet Westerners do not admit that the same kind of savagery could come to America when enough immigrants of the right type assert themselves. The fact is, Americans are sitting ducks for Third World exploitation of the Western conscience of compassion.

    Those in the West who forced South Africa to surrender to the ANC and its leaders did not consider Africa to be the dangerous, corrupt, and savage place it is now in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Those Western politicians now have a similar problem looming on their own doorsteps: the demand for power and treasure from the non-Western peoples inside the realm.

    What will you do when the future non-white majority decides to change the names of streets and cities? What will you do when they no longer want to use money that carries the portraits of old, dead white “racists” and slave owners? Will you cave in, like you did on flying the Confederate flag? What about the national anthem? Your official language?

    Don’t laugh. When the “majority” took over in South Africa, the first targets were our national symbols.

    In another generation, America may well face what Africa is now experiencing – invasions of private land by the “have-nots;” the decline in health care quality; roads and buildings in disrepair; the banishment of your history from the education of the young; the revolutionization of your justice system.

    In South Africa today, only 9 percent of murderers end up in jail. Court dockets are regularly purchased and simply disappear. Magistrates can be bribed as can the prison authorities, making escapes commonplace. Vehicle and airplane licenses are regularly purchased, and forged school and university certificates are routine.

    What would you think of the ritual slaughter of animals in your neighbor’s backyard? How do you clean up the blood and entrails that litter your suburban streets? How do you feel about the practice of witchcraft, in which the parts of young girls and boys are needed for “medicinal” purposes? How do you react to the burning of witches?

    Don’t laugh. All that is quite common in South Africa today.

    Don’t imagine that government officials caught with their fingers in the till will be punished. Excuses – like the need to overcome generations of white racism – will be found to exonerate the guilty.

    What will happen is that Western structures in America will be either destroyed from without, or transformed from within, used to suit the goals of the new rulers. And they will reign either through terror, as in Zimbabwe today, or exert other corrupt pressures to obtain, or buy votes. Once power is in the hands of aliens, don’t expect loyalty or devotion to principle from those whose jobs are at stake. One of the most surprising and tragic components of the disaster in South Africa is how many previously anti-ANC whites simply moved to the other side.

    Once you lose social, cultural, and political dominance, there is no getting it back again.

    Unfortunately, your habits and values work against you. You cannot fight terror and street mobs with letters to your Congressmen. You cannot fight accusations of racism with prayer meetings. You cannot appeal to the goodness of your fellow man when the fellow man despises you for your weaknesses and hacks off the arms and legs of his political opponents.

    To survive, Americans must never lose the power they now enjoy to people from alien cultures. Above all, don’t put yourselves to the test of fighting only when your backs are against the wall. You will probably fail.

    Millions around the world want your good life. But make no mistake: They care not for the high-minded ideals of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and your Constitution. What they want are your posessions, your power, and your status.

    And they already know that their allies among you, the “human rights activists,” the skillful lawyers and the left-wing politicians will fight for them, and not for you. They will exploit your compassion and your Christian charity, and your good will.

    They have studied you, Mr. and Mrs. America, and they know your weaknesses well.

    They know what to do.

    Do you? ”

    You can read the full article here

  • Wilhelm

    ” The Morality and Abstract Thinking, How Africans May Differ from Westerners ” by Gedaliah Braun. The Logic of Black People Explained.

  • Wilhelm

    Africa is a polygamous society, that’s why they have so many children with no fathers.

    To get an understanding of the roots of this behaviour may I suggest they read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography – Long Walk to Freedom. In Chapter 1, A Country Childhood, he writes:

    “All told, my father had four wives, the third of whom was my mother ………….. each wife had her own kraal [= an assembly of huts] …………. the kraals of my father’s wives were separated by many miles and my father commuted among them ……….. In these travels my father sired thirteen children in all, four boys and nine girls. I am the oldest child of the Right Hand House, and the youngest of my father’s four sons.”

    This is the way black people are genetically wired and continue to live accordingly in a white western democratic capitalist society. This is why white people in South Africa said, we may occupy the same space but we do not have to live together. This is why apartheid evolved, starting with the first British segregationist laws in the Cape in 1806.

  • Wilhelm

    40,000 whites have been murdered since the end of apartheid in 1994. 1 million whites have fled the country. Under apartheid there was 1 murder a day, today it’s 50 murders a day. South Africa is more dangerous than Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Wilhelm


  • Koakona

    I lived in Cape Town for nearly 3 years and I had an escape plan for two eventualities, one the rise to power of Malema and the death of Mandella. A bloodbath is coming and the West will watch the remaining whites slaughtered on the evening news.

    • Robert Taggart

      Probably, but, those Whites who are stupid enough to remain there have only themselves to blame.

      • Ron Todd

        When this country will take in the worlds scum but not white South Africans with ties to this country what options have they but to stay and hope?

        • Robert Taggart

          Agreed, but, most RSA Whities would rather emigrate to Australia or Aotearoa (NZ). Good luck to those who try.

  • john cronin

    Letter from the Telegraph, albeit a few years back.

    SIR – I have been waiting for an authoritative comment on the article
    by Roger Highfield and Charles Clover (Science, Feb. 1) suggesting that
    Aids began as a result of people in Central Africa eating certain
    chimpanzees. As none has been forthcoming, your readers – and perhaps
    the medical profession – might like to know of my own experience.

    In 1957, as a student nurse, I was working at the Fever Hospital in
    Johannesburg. Patients were sent to us from all over Africa. Few could
    speak English, so could not describe their symptoms in detail or tell us
    how they might have contracted their particular illness.

    I remember clearly the first patient who came in with very odd sores.
    A lot of tests were done – saliva, tears, blood, etc. – but we could
    not identify it’s problem, and he died. Suddenly there was a spate of
    similar cases, all from Central Africa and all ending in the patient’s
    death. The hospital asked a mission station in the Belgian Congo (as it
    then was) to send someone down to tell us more about their lifestyle and
    what they ate.

    We were told that in the Congo there was an endearing little monkey,
    grey but with a green sheen to its coat. While other chimps and monkeys
    were hunted and eaten – as they still are all over Africa – these were
    adopted as pets and even venerated, as people believed that the green
    sheen had mystic powers. Despite this veneration (or perhaps because of
    it), I was taken aback to learn that men copulated with them, some
    apparently picking up some sort of virus as a result.

    When we realised that we did not know how to cure these very ill men,
    we decided there was no point in admitting any more. They simply stayed
    at home and died. We called it green monkey disease; some time later
    our professor, Jock Gear, said he was sure they were the first cases of
    Aids to come to official notice.

    One question remains to be answered. Presumably humans had had sexual
    relations with these monkeys for a very long time. So why was it only
    in the 1950s, and only in a relatively small area of Central Africa,
    that the monkeys contracted the virus, and passed it on? Where did they
    get it from?


    Millom, Cumbria

  • Axstane

    South Africa was destined to be taken away from the whites and given to the Ten Thousand. Those are the ANC cadres of the last few years before 1990. The most prominent ANC figures of the struggle were either given top ministerial posts, irrespective of abilty, succeeded to top government posts or were even given control of vast corporations. Convicted rapists, embezzlers, paedophiles were suddenly cleansed and were rewarded with positions as high as Provincial Premierships.

    The Afrikaners had taken corruption to a high level but their successors totally outclased them in the sheer effrontery and magnitude of theft. Only a few relatively sane heads such as Trevor Emanuel and Thabo Mbeki managed to keep the semblance of government going. The ANC’s opponents such as the PAC and Inkatha were and are totally frozen out of any positions of power.

    It should be noted that even with gold and platinum at unprecedentedly high marks many mines are in financial trouble due to union action and outright theft and piracy.

    A vast influx of perhaps 2-million displaced Zimbabweans has not helped nor has the ANC’s direct financial support of Mugabe, an old ally. The ordinary black worker or would-be worker is probably worse off than under FW de Klerk.

    The current President, Jacob Zuma, is a poorly-educated demagogue of somewhat loose sexual habits and attitudes towards the property of others. His successor may be the current leader of the ANC Youth, Julius Malema, who will be worse to the power of 10.

  • Austin Barry

    Mary Robinson? I thought it was Paul McCartney prior to a pious rendition of ‘Ebony and Ivory (get together in perfect harmony.)

  • Austin Barry

    South Africa is becoming more African. And that’s what everyone wanted, isn’t it?

  • Austin Barry

    South Africa is becoming more African. And that’s what everyone wanted, isn’t it?

    • Robert Taggart

      Indeed – and therein lies the problem !

  • john cronin

    Some 90% of farms redistributed to South Africa’s black population
    from white farmers are not productive, the government has said.

    Land reform minister Gugile Nkwinti warned the land might be repossessed if the farms continued to fail.

    Almost 60,000 sq km (23,000 sq miles) have been redistributed under
    policies aimed at benefiting black people who were left impoverished by

    The land was bought from white farmers who sold up voluntarily.

    The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says some black farmers are
    likely to argue that they have been struggling to get the resources and
    skills to develop their land.

    And repossessing the land would provide a whole new problem for the
    government, our correspondent says, as any move to return the land to
    its former white owners is bound to be controversial.

    Sensitive issue

    The government had set a target of 2014 to redistribute one-third of white-owned land back to the black majority.

    But Mr Nkwinti acknowledged that the deadline would not be kept.

    He said the focus would now shift to helping the black farmers make their land productive.

    “The farms – which were active accruing revenue for the state – were
    handed over to people, and more than 90% of those are not functional,”
    he said.

    “They are not productive, and therefore the state loses the revenue.
    We cannot afford to go on like that… No country can afford that.”

    At the end of apartheid in 1994 almost 90% of land was owned by the
    white community, which made up less than 10% of the population.

    Land reform is a sensitive issue in South Africa and has been brought
    into sharp focus by the decline of agriculture in neighbouring
    Zimbabwe, where many white commercial farmers have been violently

  • Seth Afrikan

    The New South Africa = The Next Zimbabwe

  • Robert Taggart

    Makes you wonder what The Proteas (Cricketers) were playing for !
    Just one crumb of comfort for the England team – they do not have to go back to South Africa !!

  • john woods

    I can only repeat my earlir response to this excellent book on the New Statesman’s website:
    South Africa is one of the few places in Africa which are advanced enough to have mines or trade unions, due to the fact that the place was run by competent white people for a long time. South Africa has, entirely predictably, gone the same way as every other country in Africa following transition to black rule: i.e. it has collapsed into barbarism. tribalism, corruption, incompetence, violence and criminality. Highest homicide rate in the worls. Highest rape rate in the world. Highest AIDS infection rate in the world. Economic backwardisation. The collapse of a once highly productive farming econmoy. The virtual genocide of the Boer farmers (studiously ignored by western leftists and our media)
    African societies appear to be incapable of self government. For an excellent summation of modern South Africa, read “Into the Cannibal’s Pot” by Ilona Mercer.
    Why am I not surprised to learn that mines are now “expropriated” by the relatives of Mandela and Zuma? What has the blessed Nelson got to say about this blatant nepotism? How many “Anti Apartheid” demonstrators will ever take him to task over this?

    • wrinkledweasel

      Yep, with their Health Minister suggesting that you eat more vegetables in order to cure AIDS, you might think that SA has relapsed back into savagery and belief in the hoodoo man.

      Colonialism never moves societies onward, it merely places them in stasis. In a way, the Africans are like us Britons when the Romans left. They are entering the Dark Ages and their rejection of Western European values will merely keep them there.

    • Ron Todd

      I would dispute the highest rape claim. Because they were as you pointed out relatively recently run by white people they will more than most African countries have police force and legal system that has a moderatley accurate record of crimes committed. The number of rapes in the rest of Africa could be just as high or higher but without an effective police force that is no more than an organisation for collecting bribes and a legal system that is just a weapon the establishment uses against the people the rapes would not be reported or recorded.