Open Letter to President Ramaphosa from Herman Mashaba

Dear Mr PresidentYou were elected on the promise of renewal; ‘a new dawn’ I believe you called it. I find myself writing to you, once again, out of sheer frustration over your catastrophic failure to tackle fraud, corruption and wrong-doing in government. I watched your address on Thursday night. You described your feelings on the level of looting of COVID-19 relief funds and measures as ‘concerning.’ This is not ‘concerning’, Mr President, concerning is how we feel about getting older every day. It is how cold it is in the mornings, or the lack of sleep we get at night. These issues are concerning. The looting of public funds intended to provide relief to people in the COVID-19 crisis, is despicable. It is an act of the lowest forms of life, and it is criminality.I know a thing or two about tackling corruption.

In my 3 years as a Mayor of Johannesburg, I established a world-class anti-corruption unit with many of the people who were side-lined from the Scorpions, NPA and Hawks for doing their job a little too effectively. This unit relentlessly pursued corruption, investigated over 6000 cases worth R35 billion and effected over 800 arrests. It exposed cases against Ministers that still sit in your cabinet. I can’t even tell you how many officials were fired for corruption; it was simply too frequent an occurrence to document. One of the reasons this unit was effective was because they knew, unequivocally, that they would never be blocked politically. They acted without fear or favour. Language matters, Mr President. I know this, because the corruption unit I established drew the clarity of their mandate from my leadership.

I declared corruption public enemy number one. I described the people who looted as snakes, and I spoke frequently of the need to hunt them down. When you say corruption is ‘concerning,’ it is a cue to your law enforcement agencies, the country, and the looters that you don’t take the issue too seriously. Now, it would be easy to say that perhaps it was just the wrong word written into a speech on Thursday night. That would be an acceptable explanation if it came from anyone else, but it comes from you; a President who presides over an organisation that could be said to more closely resemble one of the greatest criminal syndicates in the world than a political party. I know you said that you have signed proclamations for the SIU to begin investigating these cases, but Mr President who are we kidding?The investigators in the SIU, like the rest of the country, are well aware of the complete absence of a single high-profile prosecution of anyone in your tenure as President. They are aware, as are all South Africans, that while you are ‘concerned’ about corruption, the husband of your spokesperson scored a R125 million tender in Gauteng as part of the COVID-19 response. Should the SIU look into this?Warmest regardsHerman Mashaba Founder and Chairperson of The People’s Dialogue.

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