ON THE WATER: The shame belongs to we, the people

NO ONE, but no one, no matter how deeply inveigled they might be in one of President Jacob Zuma’s patronage machines — as fellow columnist Peter Bruce calls the organising principle of the African National Congress (ANC) government — could spin away the economic catastrophe of the past week or so.

But it is likely that in neither parody nor pastiche will blame or credit be equitably affixed. Take the new finance minister, David Douglas Desmond (Comrade Des) Van Rooyen. He is nobody, really, and although his credentials have been under close scrutiny since his ascension, he seems to be nothing but the lucky recipient of presidential largesse who cannot be blamed for saying yes. Still, he must accept his share of the blame.

If Van Rooyen was a righteous man by any definition, he would have thanked Zuma for the honour, but denied him in the national interest. But what kind of man could refuse such a thing and all the blue-light travel that is sure to follow?

Instead, we have a good idea that the man holding the national wallet wants the Treasury to become: “an accessible department to all our people”. Let’s consider also the former minister, Nhlanhla Nene. Surely, he should have put up a fight even if he was guaranteed to lose? Putting up a fight against all comers was his job.

He failed.

Even as a mere employee, he has every reason to be disgruntled. So what if the president has the right to hire and fire ministers as whim dictates? Nene knows rapacity motivates the president, but we have yet to hear from him. Perhaps he could still redeem himself and come out with the details of his surrender.

Then there is Zuma himself. He will carry the can alright, but not today. Zuma is the man who led the looting of the country and the president who defiled his oath of office and the man who betrayed his people. For him the wheel will turn, but even if Zuma never pays back the money, the amount to which he has enriched himself and his cronies pales next to the cost to the economy and our standing in the international community.

Even if every last cent lost to cupidity and wilful sabotage was recovered, it is doubtful whether it would be enough to buy back SA’s standing among investors or reverse the opprobrium the ANC has heaped on us.

For the moment, Zuma is the fall guy, but the ANC, through its structures and down to the very last member, has corrupted the country. Beginning with the arms deal and accelerated by Zuma’s coup in Polokwane and affirmed by every sleazy deal and by every brazen entitlement, the party has appropriated everything, sought to control everything and equated itself with the state. The sovereignty of the people has been usurped by the ANC, a criminal gang that will not stop pillaging until the ashes have grown cold across the land.

And we, the people, have stood by and watched it happen. In the same way that Nene is weak and Van Rooyen is a patsy, we have let ourselves down. It now matters naught how many trillions of rand Zuma has cost the country. The numbers are an incomprehensible pile of zeros. The depth at which we would’ve perished is irrelevant. What matters now is that we the people — and that means you the business people of SA in particular — must take responsibility for ridding ourselves of the ANC. No member of that gang is worthy of our how-do-you-do or their name on our contracts.

The ANC government is rotten and if you touch it, so are you. The fact is, the shame is ours.

• Blom is a freelance journalist. He likes to flyfish

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