The ‘smallanyama’ gravy train

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, when confronted with the idea of accountability, admitted that every single leader in the ANC had ‘smallanyana skeletons’ in their closets – in other words, no-one had clean hands when it came to corruption.

This has become very clear over the last few years, as revelation has followed revelation of the extent and scope of the government-sponsored theft of South Africa’s resources over the last quarter-century.

While the national media rightly focusses on the ‘big story’ – the billions that were stolen in the grand larceny that characterised Jacob Zuma’s presidency, there are countless smaller stories of middle- to low-level officials who plunder millions. As a result, municipal and provincial government in South Africa has ground to a halt.

It is necessary to focus attention on the ‘smallanyama’ gravy train just as much as the big picture. After all, theft is theft. And thieving from municipal coffers affects residents directly.

Here is a list of stories published elsewhere:

August 2019: An official in Ethekwini Municipality who was suspended pending a corruption investigation returns to work and continues issuing tenders

May 2019: An investigation of crooked tenders in eThekwini municipality

October 2017: A very dodgy ‘secret deal’ sees a major infrastructure project unrolling in Durban without a hint of regulatory compliance.

July 2017: In the middle of a rural district, miles from anywhere, an entire town was built that was destined to stand empty. R1,6 billion was spent to create a ghost town.

July 2015: The world-famous Grahamstown Festival should showcase the pretty Eastern Cape town – instead it exposes the region’s bad governance.

June 2015: South Africa’s holiday paradise is running out of water – not because of the nation’s ongoing drought, but because of municipal incompetence.

February 2015: A famous site for protests has lost its mojo. Now it is nothing but neglect and apathy.

January 2015: A small holiday town disintegrates into chaos through municipal in-fighting.

December 2014: How a by-election became a battleground.

November 2014: The provincial government has an award ceremony for municipal councils. But why are officials being rewarded for below-average performance?

October 2014: Residents are compelled to pay for services, whether they receive them or not. However, there is no guarantee that the municipality will pass the payment on to the relevant service provider.

September 2014: When violence and vandalism become political tools. It is easy to disrupt service delivery for personal ends.

September 2014: A case study of government-aligned ‘investment agencies’ that usually end up being little more than lucrative jobs-for-pals. The entities use their entire budget merely to sustain themselves, they achieve nothing.

August 2014: A case study of how government neglect is depopulating the rural areas, alongside a rise in unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and disease.

July 2014: A whistleblower in a small town describes how corruption in his town has brought service delivery to a halt.

July 2014: Corrupt tenders in water supply lead to many people dying from drinking contaminated water. This is the human cost of corruption.

June 2014: Water infrastructure is vandalised by tenderpreneurs wanted the contracts to deliver water. As a result, people die from drinking contaminated water.

June 2014: A case study of how corruption and mismanagement and political patronage bring smaller municipalities to the brink of collapse.

November 2013: A half-finished shopping centre collapses, costing lives. And highights the human cost of dodgy contracts and jobs-for-pals.

February 2013: A scandal-ridden, politically-connected, couple finally (maybe) face the music. As it turns out, this article was premature. As of 2020, the couple were still getting massive municipal tenders, despite an instruction from the Revenue Service that they were no longer allowed to receive tenders.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


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