“Kunzima [it’s tough], my boy.” These had been the final phrases my 78-year-old mom sputtered over the cellphone earlier than she was admitted to hospital, her voice strangled and hoarse as if scrubbed with sandpaper. Ordinarily, even with an axe in her head, she would say, “Akukubi [It’s not bad]”. A persistent denialist, however this time there was no denying Covid-19.
Gogo Dlamini was her identify — lengthy earlier than former public protector Thuli Madonsela invoked “Gogo Dlamini”, the common citizen the state ought to consider when it serves the individuals. To deal with numerous sorrows, Mother lived her life selecting to see along with her coronary heart and never her eyes. Paradoxically, within the final yr of her life, she misplaced her eyesight — as if it was a restrict positioned on how a lot sorrow she ought to witness in a lifetime.
Docs inform us that the severity of Covid-19 hinges on whether or not a affected person has underlying well being situations induced by way of life habits or genes. Mother had each. I can’t assist however suppose that if Mzansi was an individual, it will be like Gogo Dlamini — stricken by hereditary and way of life issues within the battle towards Covid-19 and corruption.
Covid-19 and corruption choose on each the robust and weak, the rich and the poor, the federal government and the personal sectors, the political and apolitical, black and white individuals, the younger and the outdated — particularly older individuals.
Mzansi’s hereditary issues of inequality, poor schooling and poverty are born out of our historical past of racism, exploitation, dispossession and violence. Life-style issues are low accountability ranges and maladministration born out of pervasive corruption and aided by incompetence and inequality. Unaddressed, we’re a lame duck for a pandemic pummelling.
Covid-19 can annihilate the physique; corruption does the identical to our economic system. The diversion of tax cash from Gogo Dlamini’s clinics, hospitals, roads and faculties and erosion of public belief are however a couple of of the signs of corruption. It handicaps the state’s skill to assist facilitate progress in a approach that advantages all residents.
These with compromised lung situations are vulnerable to succumb to Covid-19. Corruption, alternatively, is a veritable people who smoke’ lung illness on the state’s coffers — self-sabotage that suffocates the assets of the nation. Like chain people who smoke, the culprits of corruption are hooked on it. To make issues worse, like an alcoholic who finds each excuse to drink, whether or not at a celebration or funeral, the offenders at all times discover alternatives and incentives for corruption. It rears its ugly head in every single place, whether or not it was the 2010 Fifa World Cup celebration or the funeral of the daddy of the nation or, like now, an unprecedented pandemic.
Whereas the pandemic is pulverising lives and livelihoods, we study that R5.7-million in Unemployment Insurance coverage Funds (UIF) was paid to a single individual as an alternative of the 200 determined staff affected by the lockdown. Individuals are weeping with no meals on the desk after the businesses they faithfully served for years obtained UIF cash but didn’t pay it over. What concerning the R40-million spent on overpriced blankets and sanitisers? The meals parcels plundered by politicians?.
Covid-19 has no vaccine, but we’re combating it higher than corruption. We battle corruption symptomatically, as if it’s a new remoted occasion and never a pervasive pandemic, and our cures are failing. We go after political opponents as an alternative of making use of the legislation to everybody. Senior rating officers and sure firms take pleasure in impunity whereas low low-level officers and firms committing comparatively minor offenses are met with the total may of the legislation.
Our economic system appears to be chained by an impenetrable paperwork, characterised by authorized and regulatory complexity. Most of the time, we appear to glorify conserving to the letter of the legislation over substance even the place doing so trumps the explanation the legislation was made within the first place. The unintended impact (or maybe supposed by these diabolically inclined) is that as an alternative of ravenous the issue, we create extra incentives and extra alternatives for extra corruption.
For years the auditor common has been diagnosing and prescribing treatment which the practitioners have been unwilling to manage. Parliament has been sleeping on the job; MPs battle for legroom to relaxation their toes as an alternative of holding the delinquent practitioners to account whereas Mzansi deteriorates.
Identical to Mother wanted my sister Sibo and her husband Sbu to get her to the hospital and, as soon as there, the medics to assist her, we want the federal government, the personal sector and energetic citizenry to work collectively to push again the tide of corruption. All of us have totally different but equally vital roles to handle the affected person, Mzansi — or Gogo Dlamini — and rid our land of this virus earlier than it kills our future.
Sadly for Mother, regardless of the medics being on prime of their sport and dealing across the clock to avoid wasting her life, she devastatingly didn’t make it. In distinction, the medicines for Mzansi are working out, with incompetence at key oversight positions the primary enabler of corruption, however we nonetheless have a combating likelihood. Mother left an attractive legacy of overcome tragedy. We have to do the identical for the long run generations of our stunning nation. Let’s cease being denialists and look corruption within the eye and battle it the identical approach we battle Covid-19.
Themba Dlamini is a chartered accountant, speaker, creator and founding father of Melanation Media.