South Africa's ultimate crime - the cover-up

 
President Jacob Zuma, file AFP The mounting scandals are putting pressure on President Jacob Zuma

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It's not the crime - it's the cover-up. What was true for Richard Nixon three decades ago seems to be equally applicable in South Africa today.

As the establishment here sweats beneath a particularly cumbersome stack of scandals, what is most striking is not the alleged crimes themselves but the nonchalance with which the accused have shrugged off the very notion that they might be publicly accountable for their actions.

President Jacob Zuma - his in-tray piled high with damning reports - seems reluctant to force the issue.

So we have the board of Cricket South Africa - gloved and heavily padded - seemingly preoccupied with internal discipline rather than external transparency.

Then there's the extraordinary swagger shown by Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka as he confronts a mountain of breathtaking evidence compiled by the country's public protector. He's accused, among other things, of flying to Switzerland at the taxpayer's expense to visit his convicted drug-dealer girlfriend in prison.

And we have the Police Commissioner and the Minister for Public Works. And the list goes on.

Due process must be followed of course, and the presumption of innocence honoured. But as the weeks slip by and President Zuma sticks stubbornly to the sidelines, the knives are starting to come out for him too.

And lest we think that corruption is confined to matters of business and theft, let me also throw in the scandal of the Dalai Lama's non-visit. If power corrupts, then surely the government's refusal to even acknowledge its own actions - let alone defend them - must count against it.

 
Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • Comment number 5.

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    Comment number 4.

    To make the public more aware of the role of whistleblowers, ODAC declared a National Whistleblowers Week. The campaign supported by high profile ambassadors like author Max du Preez, senior news anchor Iman Rappetti, & radio personality John Perlman. Threats are not just whistleblowers' problem; they are S.A.'s problem. Taxpayers money goes missing. Corruption & fraud costs billions each year.

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    Comment number 3.

    Protection of Information Bill (POIB) won't help. Under POIB, whistleblowers revealing national security issues & other sensitive matters will no longer fall under the Protected Disclosures Act of 2000. The POIB - dubbed the Whistleblowers' Act - protects whistleblowers working in both the private & public sector from harassment, & other threats. That's what the document says, but the reality...

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    Comment number 2.

    Whistleblowers in housing sector also face threats. Last year Human Settlements Director General, Thabani Zulu told Parliament how people are being harassed, even when protection is provided. Some get killed, even under witness protection. It is a life-threatening to blow the whistle. This sends a very bad message because those who come forward live in fear...and too often, die in fear.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    Since 2006, the number of S. Africans who have blown the whistle has dropped by 10%. Whistleblowers - especially workers in public sector & state companies - are often harassed; some are killed. Nelspruit ANC Councillor Jimmy Mohlala was gunned down in 2009. Allegedly he turned in a colleague over corruption in the construction of the Mbombela World Cup Stadium.

 

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