Nkandla and the question of ethics


Is it a fire pool or a swimming pool? According to the ministers whose new portfolio now it is to defend the impugned reputation of President Jacob Zuma it is a fire pool but the Public Protector says it is a swimming and one that cost the taxpayers a sum of R2million. In the melee of words and attempts to gain legitimacy there is one thing that is being ignored in the argument about Nkandla and it is ethics.

South African politicians are now becoming specialists in surviving close enough to the boundary line of guilt when it comes to the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ divide. Their ready defence when questioned about a situation that raises an ethical dilemma is that ‘I have broken no law.’ In this ‘catch me if you can’ attitude it is left up to the prosecutorial services to prove the politician’s guilt after surviving and going through his phalanx of expensive lawyers.       

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In most instances these lawyers are paid by the aggrieved taxpayer who has already been looted by greedy and uncaring politicians. It is time that we discuss the Nkandla scandal in light of the social landscape of South Africa. 27% of our population is unemployed, a child died in Limpopo while using a toilet, many school children lack the bare minimum educational facilities, etc. Unfortunately some people because of their proximity to power take a defensive position when it comes to this scandal.

They tell us about MPFA, security risk assessment, etc. Is there anywhere in the world where a president builds himself a cattle culvert with a chicken run, a visitor’s centre, amphitheatre, etc. all in the name of security? On top of that he relocates his neighbours at a cost of R8 million because they pose a security risk. I do not buy the argument that the president was oblivious to what was being done in his own house.

The president had his personal architect who was hired without following due process overseeing the improvements. As a matter of fact it is doubtful whether any part of this project followed any process prescribed by the law otherwise how else did it escalate from R27 million to the current level of R215 million (and still growing). What is shocking is that when the project was around R60 million the media broke the story around it.

Obfuscation and denials
Instead of rushing to curb the escalations our government entered into the now familiar zone of obfuscation and denials. Ethics are described as ‘moral principles that control or influence a person’s behaviour.’ It is possible for your behaviour to be legally justifiable and yet remain morally reprehensible. It can never be morally justifiable for a president who earns over R2 million per annum to have over R200 million of taxpayers’ funds utilised on his behalf.    

Morality and ethics is not just for the realm of religion but cuts across all sectors. For instance there are ethics that govern the medical field and there are also religious people who are unethical. An example of religious people who are unethical is the church leaders who are castigating the Public Protector without even reading her report into Nkandla. I was happy to hear the South African Council of Churches (SACC) distancing themselves from the actions of these misguided churchmen.

Ethical divide
If anything, the actions of these church leaders reveal the ever-shifting ethical standards of those who seek to endear themselves to powerful politicians. I was reminded this week that some church leaders actually ordained President Zuma as a pastor though I am not clear of the machinations behind this decision. I think what Nkandla did was to reveal the ethical divide in the country. On one side are those who think the means are justifying the end even if those means are a wholly disgraceful. On the other side are those who are terribly upset about what seems to be sliding slope to anarchy. They never imagined that people who call themselves public servants would parade themselves as high and mighty rulers. I suspect the officials who worked and approved the payments for the Nkandla project did so because of a misguided sense of duty to the President. They saw what was going on and were perhaps even conflicted but felt you cannot refuse the First Citizen.

The gross manifestation of the ‘big man – small people’ syndrome means that political leaders are not held up to ethical scrutiny. The job of civil servants seems to be to give politicians what they want and then tomtake the fall for them. What a stressful job!


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  2. Allan Verreynne

    Well said Afrika. I am appalled at these events. Our President & his cohorts ought to be ashamed of this rip-off! I have not heard any apologies to the people of RSA. What recourse do we as “Jan Publiek” have? I trust that it will be in the voting!!

    • No it won’t; the mass of people will feel that they owe the ANC for “saving them from the boere and the colonials”, and will blindly vote for them out of a sense of Duty…

    • Indeed Allan our voting choice is the only recourse. Our president never accepts capability for anything.

  3. … And the sadest part is the misguided efforts of the blind followers who vilify the public protector for doing her job while condoning the actions of our so-called leaders. The most amazing thing to me is the way that the very people who are being robbed are the ones to defend the actions of the politicians! Are they brainwashed, brain dead or are they perhaps from “Rent a Crowd”?

    • It is a complicated relationship this one between the governors and the governed Mike. It involves a lot of manipulation through the use of food parcels, superstition, wit gevaar, etc. Trust me though that the governors hold over the governed is not as strong as it is used to be. The hope of cause for this country is not in another political party but in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A properly discipled person cannot be manipulated as easily.

  4. Allan Verreynne

    Yes Mike. I thought that this lady & her team were courageous in their factual expose. She was measured & confident in speaking the truth. Each of our leaders will have to answer for their greed. May I open another can of worms. Should there not be a qualified voters role!? The masses are lead astray & they don’t even know it. as you say, they are totally blinded in their support of a corrupt group of leaders. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see!

  5. Pastor? Pastor President Zuma, how could he relocate his neighbours, didn’t he read in his bible if he has 1 that Jesus said ‘that where I am you may be also’how could uPastor do that.

  6. It is sad, demotivating, disappointing and disencouraging to think that the state could allow this to happen!

    I think that Nkandla should be auctioned off completely and the money henceforth be used for more constructive purposes, like

    Education, Municipal services, Law enforcement , Hospital services, decreasing fuel costs and effective maintenance of public roads, historic and public buildings and airports.

    Its shocking that the BASICS are being covered by our government!

    • I think Just Speaker the state has lost its moral compass. It seems that the wellbeing of politicians matters more than that of citizens (esp. children). It is a parasitical environment that I think will take our prayers to root out.

  7. I think what ANC Government forget is that, the President ‘Servant’ for the people of South Africa. The worse part scenario is that ”the President saw nothing wrong of using that money’ and final Lawyers from KZN said the Public Protector has over stepped her powers. The Questiona is ‘President Zuma is he above the Law of South South’ ? As citizen, I am concern about the direction of our Democracy. The President personal phoned Public Works Minister: Honourable Thulasi Nxesi, the former Trade Unionist and said to him ”you are delaying the Project” realise the funds. After firing the 1st Public Works Minister from His Cabinet(1st term). The power is our hands to vote for the right Government

    • Look Lulama politicians tell us that they are our servants but we now know that is not true. We are the ones serving them with out tax money. You are right that it is now up to voters to vote for a caring and clean government that delivers on its mandate.

  8. Zithobile Kolweni

    Bravo Mfundisi…sad and very discouraging. It is a big challenge to all of us as ChristianS, in fact a huge wake up call. We are in a majority and yet, such anarchy is become an order of the day. It is my prayer that, with such bold opinion makers like yourself, we will take a firm stand and unite in the fight against such shameful happenings.

    My work takes me to most African countries and it’s such a shame to have to hide my head and try and justify the shameful deeds that are being done by our government.

    Thanks always Mfundisi. Hope to see you at KMMC!

    • Thank you Zithobile,

      We cannot tolerate this anarchy. It has gone on too far. Indeed we are becoming a laughing stock to other nations. Yes I will be at KMMC and perhaps we will see each other there.

  9. I humbly wish to draw the attention of Pastor to Mark 10:42 & 43. Obvious its no longer a moral issue but it contradict the Pastor`s religious believes as well.