IN TOUCH | SA has to stand up against corruption

Compared with other well-established democracies around the world and even on the continent, South Africa is a young country. Our country is only 26 years old and in human terms that is still a young woman, a woman who is still discovering what she is, figuring out what she stands for and what kind of a human being she would want to be for the rest of her life. The events of the last little while have been a fork in the road for our country. We have to figure out once and for all who we are and what we stand for. The auditor general has released damning findings about how municipality has basically treated the fiscus as monopoly money – they have frittered a whole billion and no one is bothered about it.

One municipality even has the nerve to put out a press release which is not only cringe-worthy but has revealed the contempt these people hold for us, the public, the ratepayers, the tax payers and more importantly the voters. Ours is a funny country – if you want to get rich, you become a politician. Look around you and you will see what I am talking about. We don’t even flinch when we see our politician friends with car boots full of cash and we never ask ourselves how they got to amass so much cash. We go out with them and they, with gay abandon, throw cash around and settle liquor bills equal to the salary they earn from the government institution they are attached to.

Instead of being appalled, we cheer them on and hold them in high regard and follow them around like seagulls following a fishing trawler. Where do you think he got that money from? We have a former president of a country simply saying voertsek to a whole constitution and us as a country – instead of having widespread condemnation for it, we have people boldly standing up for him. We have people willing to tear this country apart to protect such a man. Do we understand the implications for our young democracy, for a person who held the highest office in the land and a person who still commands popular support to behave the way he has? Do we find time when we are alone in our houses to reflect on these things, as law-abiding citizens? What if tomorrow you need the very same justice system to come to your aid and the person or institution who has wronged you simply ignores the court ruling – then what?

In Buffalo City 77 houses were torn down by government and the court ruled more than six months ago that they must be rebuilt. Over half a year later there has been no movement – the court order has been simply ignored. These and many other real issues are and will confront ordinary people forever and we will have no one to come to our aid as we are now willing to tear down the justice system to save one corrupt individual. We look the other way when we have boots full of cash which we know they could not have been earned legally, instead we worship those people. The time has come to determine what kind of nation we want to be. Like that 26-year-old young woman we have reached a stage where we have to decide what kind of an adult we want to be, for the rest of our lives. Which values do we want to live by and pass on to our offspring?  We worship people who are robbing us blind and that, I’m afraid, is on us and we should not turn around and complain when our existence as a nation is in peril. We have to clean the wound, without fear or favour. This has festered for far too long. We must cast out the corrupt among us and treat them like the lepers that they are.