Johannesburg – While President Cyril Ramaphosa grapples with what to do with embattled Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, the R150-million scandal involving Digital Vibes gives us an opportunity to ponder on the phenomenon of dynasties.
Mkhize’s son, Dedani, is said to have benefited financially from the minister’s associates, who scored the contracts irregularly from his department.
The purpose of this column is not to go into the irregularity of the tenders, but to shine a spotlight on the culture of politicians using their families and friends to line their pockets – benefitting from the same government they are serving.
Ramaphosa’s son, Andile, benefitted from a relationship he had with controversial facilities management company Bosasa, which made a R500 000 donation towards the president’s campaign to lead the ANC. Bosasa’s main business was government tenders.
Recently, it emerged that ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina’s son benefitted from a personal protective equipment deal involving the party’s caucus. History is replete with stories of how politicians – throughout Africa – use their families and friends to cash in on the public offices they hold.
The Zondo State Capture Commission is saddled with stories of how the Guptas captured former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, to loot billions from the fiscus. They also had suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s son working with them. Dynasties breed a culture of entitlement and impunity synonymous with state capture.
In our context, there are comrades who continue to hold a firm belief that because they participated in the struggle against apartheid, they are entitled to the spoils of democracy.
Their kids, too, believe they are entitled to be enriched through the state because of their parents’ participation in the struggle against apartheid. As one former senior leader of the ANC, who now serves as an ambassador after his stint with the Congress of the People, said: “I did not join the struggle to be poor.”
At the heart of ethical leadership is the virtue of selflessness, yet many ANC leaders do indeed believe that they did not fight the struggle to be poor.
The ANC, in its Through the eye of the needle document, asserts that “to become an ANC leader is not an entitlement”.
A pertinent question is asked in the document: “How do we prevent attempts to use the movement as a step ladder towards self-enrichment?”
This is the question that the ANC leadership should be preoccupied with instead of the looting of state coffers.
In the final analysis, we should be vigilant against dynasties.