Gupta rage a sideshow, ANC is the real hijacker

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Gupta rage a sideshow, ANC is the real hijacker

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:46 pm

SOURCE : BD Live

Gupta rage a sideshow, ANC is the real hijacker



EVER been hit on by someone who is evidently not your type? I experienced that in 2012 under the cover of the giant marquee that hosted the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) Mangaung conference. Atul Gupta was in a jovial mood as Jacob Zuma’s Yoweri Museveni-style presidential convoy of black sedans and SUVs snaked around the tent to an entrance. Gupta could not conceal his teenage-like excitement, and his adrenalin-fuelled lower limb freedom worried the ANC communications team.

One of them whispered to me that controlling the Gupta brothers’ movements was like playing "thibang, thibang" — a game in which children run around blocking their opponents’ paths. This was after I had asked the ANC apparatchik if Gupta had indeed, for a brief moment, stepped on the elevated holy stage, where only the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) members sit. To this fellow, the Guptas were guilty only of their photo-bombing tendencies — so that they would be seen next to powerful figures.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, considering the earth-shattering disclosures by Themba Maseko and Mcebisi Jonas on the Gupta family’s unwanted advances, let me share this little incident.

As we waited for the Prince of Nkandla, Gupta said to me: "I knew from the first day I met you that I wanted to hire you (to work for The New Age)." He was referring to our first encounter in 2011, when I was part of a Business Day team that interviewed the Gupta brothers and their underlings at The New Age. Arrogance dripped off family deal maker Ajay Gupta’s gold chains, so much so that a couple of hours with them made me feel like I was watching — or part of — a scene from a South American movie in which the double-crosser finally gets his fingers chopped off.

Then last week, we experienced something like "Two Minutes Hate" of Orwellian proportions, when some in the ANC were "hurt" by the "divisive" newspaper, and expressed their "disgust". The New Age’s crime was a pretty ordinary illustration of its interpretation of the power blocs in the ANC.

The Gupta family’s influence and its media outlets’ operations were discussed at the ANC’s NEC meeting at the weekend, and it was decided that the "top six" leaders (led by Gupta family friend, Zuma) should meet the brothers one more time to raise the party’s disgust at their style of operation. Both dominant ANC factions have advanced similar theoretical arguments: that the state is captured by private interests.

This incomplete argument shows that our politics and language are dominated by ideas and analytical instruments that deserve to have been chucked into the mausoleum alongside Vladimir Lenin a century ago. The anti-Gupta rage, and its theoretical crutch of "state capture by private interests", ignores fundamental facts about the post-apartheid state’s performance. The auditor-general shows year after year that we lose billions due to ANC government corruption, especially at provincial and local level, away from the attention of the media and civil society.

The "Zupta gang" has simply brought the national government in line with the predatory practices prevalent at the lower tiers. Of course, the state is captured, but by the ANC, which has resisted the National Development Plan’s state reforms that include ways to free the bureaucracy from the clutch of the Luthuli House deployment committee — or the de facto deployment committee operating from Saxonwold.

I am afraid systemic political corruption, coupled with ANC sophistry, will be part of our nightmarish present until significant chunks of society choose to do things decidedly differently. We are not there yet.

• Mkokeli is associate editor

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