Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2001-12-01 Reporter: Letters Editor:

Their Criticism is Not Racist


Publication  City Press
Date 2001-12-01


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PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki, in his "From the President's Desk" column in the Sowetan of November 19, wrote that racists expect Africans in government to be corrupt.

He was referring to the investigation into the arms procurement deal.

Most South Africans, irrespective of their skin colour, have been eagerly awaiting the results of this investigation. So it is irrational to label those interested in this miasma as racists.

History will judge us wrong should we become verkramp and pretend it is only racists (possibly whites) who deem Africans in government to be corrupt.

The president asserts that various individuals were publicly found guilty long before any charges were brought against them and long before any court made any determination about the truth of any allegations.

How would one, for instance, explain the elusive Tony Yengeni when he played his tedious hide-and-seek games and contemptuously spent in excess of R250 000 in an attempt to clear his name off the comrades-in-corruption register.

Contrary to the president's view, it is not only racists who see that Africans who now govern our country are prone to corruption and mismanagement. Even we Africans are annoyed by this corruption and therefore revile it.

The disenchantment of the African people with their leaders began in the 1960s. The leadership which assumed power after independence continued with the denigration and oppression of their fellow African people. This was more painful since these atrocities were being done by the very leaders who claimed to have brought freedom to Africa.

In addition, they looted Africa's wealth to deposit in foreign banks for personal gain while their own people were swimming in penury.

Where was the difference between these leaders and the colonialists?

Such leaders turn public office into their own personal property.

When you ask for their patriotism, they deride you as neo-colonialist, imperialist or even racist. Shame, Africa!
After ruining their economies, these leaders still insist on putting the blame elsewhere.

Voting such leaders into office is like replacing white imperialism with black imperialism. I remind our president: go to hospitals and schools, or anywhere in your government, and you will find corrupt state officials having nice times shunning their work.

Corruption has become institutionalised at the top among those who handle large amounts of government funds.
Corruption hampers economic development and can get out of hand and become institutionalised if the administratitive, political and constitutional institutions of a country possess insufficient checks to deal with the problem effectively.

History, but not racism, knows about the culture of corruption in Africa and the world over.

With acknowledgement to City Press.