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President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: REUTERS /MIKE HUTCHINGS
President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: REUTERS /MIKE HUTCHINGS

Back in 2018 public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan urged the Zondo Commission to “connect the dots” in order to untangle the web that is state capture. As the new year gets under way, one is astonished at just how little connecting of the dots the state is doing. It seems to me that there are red flags everywhere and the powers that be are ignoring them – or are simply incapable of working out just how much danger the country is in.

A state that respects itself has all sorts of analysts looking at everything from food security to logistics challenges to regional and global security threats and so forth. Their job is to “connect the dots” and give early warnings about potential threats and opportunities.

Do we have such people? Does our president receive such intelligence briefings or is he, as he always used to tell us, “shocked” by every major development in our country? I ask these questions because there are warning lights flashing in SA and the pilot (President Cyril Ramaphosa) and his co-pilots (our cabinet ministers) seem to be asleep.

On January 2 the parliamentary precinct was torched. In the week following that the Constitutional Court was attacked. Justice department buildings were attacked in the Western Cape. Ramaphosa faced security threats in Limpopo. His address to his party’s fancy gala dinner was plunged into darkness. Were all these events random?

This week the home of Johann van Loggerenberg, the former SA Revenue Service (Sars) executive and a key whistle-blower on state capture, was broken into. Just last week another state capture whistle-blower, Themba Maseko, had his house burgled. On November 1 2021 Athol Williams, another whistle-blower in the Sars matter, fled SA fearing for his life. All of the state capture whistle-blowers are living in fear and many have faced intimidation. Is anyone connecting the dots and taking action?

Crucially, does the president of the republic ever ask his team: “Guys, what is going on in the state? Can’t you smell the rot?”

Does the president ever think that it is time to take the nation into his confidence about this?

Over the past few months there have been numerous indications that new xenophobic attacks are on the horizon. The drums have been beating for a while, but their noise has been cacophonous since the local elections. Much of it happens on social media: videos of individuals declaring that campaigns such as “Operation Dudula” (Zulu for drive back or repulse) would be taking place (alleged foreigners are being “kicked out” in parts of Soweto this week); emphasis on crimes committed by foreign nationals as proof of how they have “taken over our country”; messages by leaders that they will be visiting businesses to “check” how many foreign nationals are employed at these places. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that we are on a knife-edge on this issue.

The only people who don’t seem to realise what a serious situation we find ourselves in as a country are our leaders. Shouldn’t someone in the security cluster be standing up to reassure the nation that the attacks on government infrastructure and the security threats around the president are not a co-ordinated campaign? The silence from the Ramaphosa administration is not just deafening, it is frightening because it paints him and his security chiefs as clueless and as unprepared as they were for the July 2021 riots.

The same applies to the issue of whistle-blowers. Babita Deokaran, lest we forget, was murdered for blowing the whistle on corruption. Is the state waiting for another whistle-blower to be killed in cold blood before the police minister issues a strongly worded statement and ensures a top team goes out to investigate?

At the heart of all these problems is the fact that we have a state whose ability to assess threats and opportunities has collapsed alongside its ability to implement any of its programmes. State capture, it seems, really succeeded. We are now left with state machinery that seems incapable of dealing with any of the clear and present dangers that confront us.

Forget about connecting the dots, this state seemingly cannot be trusted with the simple task of organising a piss-up in a brewery.


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