Masimanyane pledges support for anti-state capture initiative
“What we have in South Africa now … the state has literally been taken over. As we talk, we have what amounts to a criminal syndicate that has effectively usurped state control and state authority.” – Mcebisi Jonas
South Africa is in a deep economic and political crisis, and the country needs, as a matter of urgency, to get a broad national consensus about the exact scope, breadth and depth of that crisis if we are to effective address and reverse state capture.
This was the message from former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas yesterday, in an informal address to Masimanyane Women’s Rights International and some of its local and regional partner organisations.
“If we do not get that consensus, and begin to mobilise civil society against capture, we are heading for what some people have called ‘the morning after syndrome’,” he cautioned.
The “morning after syndrome” is a term which has been used to refer to sudden and cataclysmic economic collapse which takes ordinary citizens by surprise, because they were not made aware, or did not informed themselves, of the factors that led to the collapse.
“When you walk out of your house and you see people going to work as usual, or driving their children to school as usual, it is tempting to think that things are normal,” he said. “But things are not normal. Society needs to understand this.”
Jonas called on grassroots civic bodies, including organisations like Masimanyane and its partners, to deepen the mobilisation and conscientising of South African society.
“This requires two things: strong political civic education about the state capture crisis, and its devastating effect on our economy, and a national coalition that draws likeminded organisations and individuals around a common platform.”
“People understand corruption, but they don’t fully grasp state capture. They don’t fully understand how it affects the functionality of the state, or how it impacts our democracy and state accountability.
“What we have in South Africa now … the state has literally been taken over. As we talk, we have what amounts to a criminal syndicate that has effectively usurped state control and state authority. It has happened over time, but it has happened fast, and it has happened deep.”
The consequences, Mr Jonas said, have been almost unimaginably huge.
“The whole point of state capture is for money to be externalised … to leave the country. How much is still not clear, but it is huge. (Former Finance Minister) Pravin (Gordan) bends at R100-billion.”
State capture has two devastating dimensions: the sabotage of our economy (a massive R100-billion less to plough into critical social services or job creation initiatives) and the sabotage of South Africa constitutional democracy.
“The truth – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – is that we are in a deep, deep crisis,” Mr Jonas stressed. “If we do not mobilise society, and get an activity citizenry to block the collapse and to hold politicians and the state accountable, we will soon suffer our own morning-after syndrome. Once we reach the point of no return, the collapse will be swift, and it will be deep.”
Mr Jonas was accompanied to the Masimanyane briefing by Mr Mandla Nkomfe and Mr Neesan Balton, Deputy Chair and Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, respectively, who is driving a national campaign to mobilize South Africans against state capture.
“It is critically important for us to understand what made state capture possible. Unless we understand how this came to happen, we cannot address it in a fundamental way,” Mr Neesan said.
He singled out four critical factors that allowed the current state of capture: South Africa’s system of proportional representation, which vests enormous power with the president while limiting accountability; appointing processes in the public service, which has resulted in a seriously compromised ethical fibre of critical public institutions; the weakness and disengagement of civil society; and weak participatory systems.
“Between now and August next year, we have to emerge with a people’s manifesto, and get political parties who want our support and our votes to speak to that manifesto. For the first time in our democracy, every party needs your vote. This is a huge opportunity to correct the balance of power, and we must capitalise of this opportunity,” he said.
The Kathrada Foundation is working to coordinate a broad range of civil society organisations to understand the full extent of state capture in South Africa, and to mobilise an effective, people-first response to this national crisis.
‘Part of this response is also to start thinking about what comes after,” Mr Nkomfe said. “We must root out every single person compromised by state capture. But what is going to happen when most of these people have been removed? We must also play an active role in the reconstruction of South African society thereafter.”
For that reason, the anti-state capture movement cannot be based in Johannesburg or Cape Town alone, he said. “It must be a truly national movement, with an active citizenry being mobilised in every town and every rural area across the country.”
Masimanyane Executive Director Dr Lesley Ann Foster pledged the full support of both Masimanyane and its partner organisations across the country to educate and engage citizens at grassroot level.
“State capture affects every single person in South Africa, not least of which the most vulnerable and the most marginalised,” she said. “Masimanyane knows how to organise, and we know how to mobilise. We will do everything in our power to advance this critically important initiative.”