Thanks to the determinaton of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, these parliamentarians were woken up from a long slumber to demonstrate that when there is sufficient will in the house, they’re capable of doing the right thing.
But let us not be fooled; Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s madness and, most likely, criminality, had gone on for far too long before real action was taken. All these parliamentarians live in the same country as all of us; they consume the same media and, for some, they’re active on the same social media platforms as many of us.
It had to take a public disagreement within the ruling party for one of them to up the ante, in the face of blatant defiance on the part of Hlaudi and the people around him, and use his power to take the matter to where it is at today.
The rest of us just happen to be unintended beneficiaries of this process, assuming of course that it will culminate in real punitive action against Hlaudi and his enablers, irrespective of the positions they occupy and their political connections.
Unmanageable Dudu still holds sway
But again, let us not be fooled; there are still many other Hlaudis in the system – brazen people who have been brandishing a middle finger in our collective face for far too long. Chief of these is Dudu Myeni. I will no longer ask here how this lady has managed to survive for this long in the system despite everything – anecdotal and in formal reports – that has been said and written about her.
In a normal world or rather, if Dudu Myeni did not enjoy the same protection that we all know she does, she would have been removed long ago from all positions she occupies in our public institutions. This woman is just unfitting in too many ways, but no one seems to have the courage to do anything about her.
Myeni is like Hlaudi, but several times worse. They will not admit it in public, but all ministers given the misfortune of exercising political oversight over the institutions she chairs, know that they have an impossible task in their hands. It can also be argued that being given the responsibility to manage Myeni is like being set up for failure.
This is because one would need to throw anything with the abbreciation PFMA out of the window to work with her. Whatever rules and guidelines that have been carefully developed to ensure sound, transparent, and accountable governance do not seem to apply to this woman.
I’ve been reliably told by people who have had the misfortune of working with her that “Dudu Myeni always gets what she wants”.
If you do not believe any of this, go on and ask Malusi Gigaba, Lynne Brown, Nomvula Mokonyane, Nhlanhla Nene and, yes, even good old Pravin Gordhan. But don’t ask the question in the presence of other people or in a loud voice. If you do this, they will hold their chins up, assume a false air of authority – but not before they look around nervously to check that no one else heard your daring question – and look you in the eyes as if you’ve just landed from Mars.
They will pretend not to have a clue about what you’re talking about. Or they will simply deny everything. But I can tell you this, they all carry festering scars – Dudu Myeni scars. They will either take them to their graves, or one day after they or ‘he who shall not be named’ would have retired from active politics, relate their stories in memoirs or juicy op-eds.
No minister manages Dudu Myeni; it’s said to always be the other way round. She’s known for telling her political bosses where she will meet them and when, even when summoned to meetings by them. In fact, no one dares summon her any more, she might be busy meeting with the ‘one who shall not be named’ or running some or other errand for him.
She’s also known to declare his preferences when crucial issues are being discussed in board meetings, telling others what decisions he wants taken.
The cancer remains active
Now, with the likes of Dudu Myeni still active in our state-owned entities, the job of cleaning out our system can never be said to be done. More ad hoc parliamentary committees, armed with political will and fine tooth combs, are needed for SOEs like Eskom, Denel, Transnet, the Department of Water and Sanitation and all others with massive procurement budgets.
Despite the desperate attempts to divert our attention from the real and present danger of contempary state capture to suspected apartheid era commercial crimes, the poisonous tentacles of state capture remain intact. They’re actively drawing blood from our public coffers, mindful that their time will soon run out.
They’re determined to empty the coffers before someone else takes control. If nothing gets done, the reported emptying of state coffers by the Gambia’s former strongman Yahya Jammeh before he left will seem like the theft of a few coins from a bedside money box.
Lofty, well crafted and ceremonial public pronouncements on global forums are fine, but not enough for reputational recovery if little cancerous cells are left to eat away undisturbed at our institutions.