Given the jackals and hyenas ominously circling around them – now familiar occurrences in the days leading to the delivery of budget speeches by Gordhan since his return to the finance position, back in December 2015 – it’s strange that too many of us still fail to connect the dots.
While most of us wait in almost detached anticipation for the details in each budget speech, there is always a small group of faceless, yet powerful, marauders for whom each address is a matter of life or death; it will either offer the grease to facilitate their scheming against our state resources, or close more loopholes they have been eying to realise their nefarious plans against the interests of our state and, by extension, our collective interests.
Not fazed, but vigilant
Going by their mood during the joint interview on Monday night, neither Gordhan nor Jonas has been spending too much energy looking over their shoulders in recent weeks; this is unlikely to change when they deliver the Budget Speech on Wednesday.
They also convincingly portrayed that they sleep peacefully at night and that their consciences are clear. But that doesn’t mean that these two patriots are naïve and oblivious to the hyenas circling around them; far from it.
They’re happy that despite all the ill-informed, childish and cacophonous sloganeering making the rounds, the budget they will present is not an event; it is the culmination of a long process of consultation with leaders of all three spheres of government, a process that began as early as last June.
Irrespective of how we – the general public, observers and commentators – will respond to it, it is not a budget made in a room filled with smoke and mirrors by two individuals who did not enjoy political and administrative backing. In Gordhan’s words, South Africa’s budget-making process is one of the top three in the world in terms of transparency. We should be proud of that.
The ‘dial-a-toyi-toyi’ brigade
The ill-informed members of the “dial-a-toyi-toyi” brigade who seemingly bark at the behest of the faceless marauders who do not have the interests of our state at heart must be exposed for what they really are. South Africa is not a banana republic. It also does not belong to the loudest people in the room and shouldn’t be allowed to be hijacked by their intimidation, no matter how loudly they can sing archaic struggle songs, how high they can raise their knees while doing so, nor how high they can jump.
This country belongs to all of us. Gordhan and Jonas are correct; the battle for the soul of our hard-won democracy and its institutions is far from over. Unlike in the past, the enemy has long breached the outer walls of our democratic defences and has been walking among us for a while now.
Because it talks like us, looks like us, sings like us and can even reminisce like us over the painful era of apartheid whose enduring legacies we still battle with, too few of us are able to identify this enemy for what it is. Worse still, too few of those walking in its inner circles have the courage to call it what it is for fear of losing positions and other privileges, and for fear of betraying a shared, idyllic past in the trenches.
They fail us all and they fail our republic through their silence and by continuing to hold the hands of the marauders, shielding them from the scrutiny they deserve. They have forgotten what they spent all those years in the trenches for. Having won their prize 23 years ago, they now seem prepared to give it up for short-term greed.
No time to sleep
All right-thinking South Africans, organised in a growing plethora of civil society movements and in other capacities, should remain vigilant and, when necessary, make their voices heard loud and clear that enough is enough. We need to stand together and push back against the growing “dial-a-toyi-toyi” brigade before it is too late.
We have to look them in the eye and remind them that they cannot ride roughshod over us simply because their masters made them believe they can, or that they are more deserving of the wealth of our nation than they are.
It can no longer be right for us to stand politely aside while attempts at intimidation and constructive dismissal are made against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his team at Treasury, men and women who are risking much just for the sake of keeping our economy afloat.
Gordhan and Jonas are correct: effective economic transformation cannot happen without economic growth. While there is a need to spread the benefits of our economy by sharing the pie with more people – not the same politically connected ones – it would never be sufficient if more knowledge, more economic development and, by extension, more sources of revenue are not created to fill our state coffers.
The integrity of our state and the viability of its economy cannot be safeguarded if we let the marauders take over our National Treasury. If current rumours are anything to go by and the disgraced Brian Molefe gets appointed to any position within Treasury – our last line of defence – it would spell certain victory for the marauders.
If he loves this country and is attentive to prevailing public sentiment, Molefe should decline any appointment to National Treasury.