My initial brief was to write an article on the FAIS Ombud’s annual report, but I thought it better not to start the new year on such a sombre note. Equally depressing was the media reviews of the important events of 2021. For the most, I ignored them. It was bad enough living through them without having to regurgitate them.
The old year ended with a slight whimper, while the new year started with two bangs. One apparently literally, the other figuratively.
The saddest part of 2021 was the loss of South Africa’s moral compass at a time when it is sorely needed as we start rebuilding after the carnage of the nine lost years. At a time when pussyfooting appears to be the approach to handle wrongdoings, the Arch called a spade a spade, never mind who the transgressor was.
Unsubstantiated reports would have it that the fire at the parliamentary buildings were started with explosives, which might explain why there were two unconnected outbreaks. What intrigues most of us is the why, more than the how. What person of sane mind would destroy the very bastion of democracy in a country that fought so hard and paid so dearly for it?
While various government agencies are hard at work denying accountability, and opposition parties were quick to try to score political points from the tragedy, the need for Parliament to continue its work as soon as possible is paramount.
If there is one good thing to come of the Covid pandemic, it is that systems are in place to continue its functions of providing for vigorous debate, approving legislation and monitoring the executive authority via online facilities. It even makes shutting up disruptive members so much easier than having to call in the white shirts to physically remove them.
Zondo Report released
I have every intention of studying articles on the first part of this very important report. While it may contain a lot of depressing information, it is the first lancing of the boil, which can be the start of the recovery we all prayed for.
What is particularly important is that the evidence gathered over three years is now available for the regulatory authorities to start compiling dossiers against the main culprits of state capture. The resignation of advocate Hermione Cronjé will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the workings of the NPA, but it has been rebuilding its capacity after its near-fatal deconstruction before the appointment of advocate Shamila Batohi nearly three years ago.
Media speculation about the reasons for Cronjé’s resignation include possible political interference and weak evidence provided to the Zondo commission. What is required is that a number of prominent individuals are prosecuted with the utmost haste to convey the message that crime does not pay, albeit in the long run.
Despite daily reports over three years on the testimony at the commission, the Auditor-General’s reports showed that the theft from state coffers increased hand over fist, year by year.
While locking up criminals as an example is an important first step, what is even more important is setting AND enforcing parameters for accountability. We cannot afford having thousands of possible miscreants loafing around at home on full pay while disciplinary action simply drags on for years. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Perhaps the president’s intended action is conveyed in the words of the Waterboys:
You to me are treasure, you to me are dear
So I’ll give you my love with a bang on the ear
While the banter about vaccination, or not, reached epidemic proportions, the good news, thus far, is that the virus appears to be mellowing with age. If this continues, it will indeed make for a happy new year, or more, for most of us.
The statistics on hospitalisation since the identification of the Omicron variant should convince the biggest sceptics that there is a case to be made for vaccination. However, if your reasoning is that you won’t vaccinate just to fill the coffers of chemical companies, or to thwart Bill Gates, then who I am to argue against such infallible logic?
In lighter wyn
One endearing trait of South Africans is that we have always been capable of seeing humour in any event, no matter how serious it might be.
For those of us with a hearing impairment, Covid added to the burden by the required wearing of masks, which makes lip reading impossible. It appears that this not only applied to humans, though. My thanks to Roché Cowley for constantly stocking up my humour pantry.