South Africa’s battle with graft is beginning to unravel. An estimated 20% (R30bn) of the country’s procurement budget is siphoned off by corruption, cronyism and incompetence. President Jacob Zuma’s latest response is reminiscent of something from Silvio Berlusconi’s old playbook. From the FT:
Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, on Tuesday removed a high-profile anti-corruption official, replacing him with Willem Heath, a former judge who helped him fight graft allegations before he became head of state. […]
The appointment of Mr Heath raised concerns among anti-corruption activists, who see him as part of the president’s camp and fear the move could weaken the battle against graft. […]
Zuma’s recent efforts to fight corruption have come grudgingly, and now, perhaps, not at all. Mr. Heath’s appointment could protect Zuma & Co. from the political trouble of high profile corruption scandals, but it may not be necessary. Thanks to new secrecy laws, the national assembly is cracking down on those horrible people who tell reporters about official misdoing and the irresponsible newspapers who publish the truth.We can all wring our hands over South Africa, but it’s easier to worry about it than govern it. South Africa suffers from near 25% unemployment and gloomy global growth prospects worsen the forecasts. The poor have received surprisingly few benefits from either the end of apartheid or the economic growth of the 90s. At the same time, a 20-year brain drain and intolerably high crime rate have undermined the country’s foundations.The world needs for South Africa to succeed. For that to happen, South Africa’s political leaders need to raise their game. From the standpoint of the poor, from the standpoint of investment, from the standpoint of liberty, what is happening now is not good enough.