Working for access to quality public healthcare in South Africa since 1998
25 Aug 2016

South Africa faces one of the most serious political crises since the end of apartheid

TAC calls on all people living in South Africa to resist corruption and state capture and to hold those responsible accountable.

JOHANNESBURG, 25th AUGUST 2016: South Africa is facing one of the most serious political crises since the end of apartheid. The latest expression of this crisis is the unprecedented and legally unsound attack by the Hawks on the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. This attack is part of a long-running and systematic programme of state capture by various corrupt politicians.

We don’t believe President Jacob Zuma when he says Minister Gordhan has his full support. We don’t believe him because he appointed the head of the Hawks Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza of whom judge Elias Matojane said last year, he is “biased and dishonest”, that he “lacks integrity and honour”, and “made false statements under oath”. Judge Matojane said so in the Pretoria High Court, describing the performance of Ntlemeza, then acting head of the Hawks. Ntlemeza had submitted an affidavit full of “fabrications”, said the judge, and he was guilty of “vindictive and injudicious conduct”.

We don’t believe the President because of the irrational way in which he fired former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. We don’t believe him because of his connections with the Gupta family. We don’t believe him because of the close to 800 serious charges of corruption for which he has up to now done all he could to avoid his day in court.

We express our full support for Minister Gordhan and other officials who are being victimised. We see no reason to doubt their commitment to the public interest. We do not believe that the Hawks have a legitimate case against them.

What has this got to do with TAC?

We find the events of this week particularly reckless given the perilous state of our economy and the risk of a ratings downgrade. A ratings downgrade will impact most harshly on poor people. It will lead to increases in the prices of medicines and essential foods. It will cause further ill health in an already over-burdened health system. It will stifle economic growth and the employment prospects of people living in South Africa. While rich and middle-class people will find it harder to travel overseas or to afford the latest gadgets, poor people will pay with their health, access to jobs and the ability to buy food. Corruption and state capture is primarily a poor people’s issue.

We are not fooled. Parts of our government has been taken over by corrupt people who care more about getting rich than about serving the people. They have betrayed the struggle. They have betrayed the Freedom Charter. They have betrayed the Constitution of South Africa. They have betrayed the glorious legacy of leaders like Oliver Reginald Tambo, Steve Bantu Biko, Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, Abram Fischer and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

We have first-hand experience of the harmful impact of corruption on the healthcare system and of the harmful impact of political patronage. We have seen this most clearly in the Free State where a crisis continues to unfold in the healthcare system, while the politically connected MEC for Health Benny Malakoane who is facing various serious charges of fraud and corruption remains untouchable and enjoys the protection of his Premier Ace Magashule. We see its impact at clinics and hospitals in our communities and in flawed tender processes and in Auditor General’s reports.

We believe that most people living and working in South Africa are not corrupt. We know that there are many good and hard-working people in the public service. We call on all good people to resist state capture, to speak out when they encounter corruption and not be intimidated by the behavior of the Hawks.

We stand with our comrades at Equal Education, in business and in academia who have spoken out this week.

During the dark days of AIDS denialism, the majority of ANC leaders remained quiet. Yet when former President Thabo Mbeki was no longer the President, suddenly some spoke out. When this political crisis comes to an end, as it eventually will, we will remember which leaders in the African National Congress stayed quiet at this critical time. We will remember especially those on the ANC National Executive Committee who allowed the rot to continue. Your responsibility is to the Constitution and people, not to the President. If we have to, we will work with other movements in civil society to mobilise people to overcome this crisis.

Following discussions at TAC’s National Council being held in Booysens Hotel this week, this morning we deployed two of TAC’s National Office Bearers, TAC Deputy Chair Patrick Mdletshe and our Women’s sector representative Portia Serote, to represent us outside the offices of the Hawks in Pretoria. We are awaiting their report. We will not fold our arms while the looting of the state continues. We are mobilising.

For media comment please contact TAC General Secretary Anele Yawa on 079 328 1215