This picture is trending. It is the most potent weapon of those who deride the public protector’s investigation of and findings on state capture. They use the picture to “prove” that (black) South Africans are misplaced in their concern about and interest in this state capture.
These folks are arguing that the reported worrisome influence of one family over government is nothing compared to the wealth still enjoyed by “monopoly white capital”.
As the picture depicts, the critics argue the economy remains in white hands. By the way, I agree with them. They therefore believe we should not worry about any black corruption – real or potential – because it is miniscule in the bigger scheme of things.
I have two problems with this warped logic. First, corruption is corruption. We should not excuse any of it in spite of the race of those who commit it.
In fact, I argue that it is incumbent on black people to be more intolerant of corruption not only because it is wrong and that we have suffered under corrupt colonial and apartheid governments for 400 years, but mostly because theft from state coffers punishes the poor more than anybody else.
What’s funny is that the apologists always pretend to speak for the poor.
Secondly, I think this picture and the warped logic used in defence of wrongdoing, are an insult to the governing ANC. This picture portrays government captured by white capital. This is patronising because it suggests that the ANC has no agency and political power to change things.
The ANC, up until 2009, enjoyed a two-thirds majority and had the power to make major changes, not least in transferring of land to the majority. The jury is out as to what were the objective and subjective reasons this did not happen.
This argument by these folk is actually an attack on the government that it has allowed itself to be owned by capital. If that be the case, then I argue that then the noise must be directed at government.
Lastly, to argue that we should also investigate white corporate corruption is lazy. If anyone has any evidence of white capital corruption, then that person has the responsibility to report this and insist that it is investigated. I pledge to join any campaign that will expose this, just as much I support the exposure of public sector corruption.
This is why I support organisations like the Black Management Forum who everyday fight to make significant and visible changes in the make up of corporate SA. They saw a problem and they addressing it.
I believe in transformation. But for me transformation is not at the expense of good governance.
[Follow me on twitter @ramsbythehorns]