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Terry Crawford-Browne

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Mbeki may yet face impeachment

Before ranting at Business Day on the ethics of journalism, presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga and his boss might ponder why increasing numbers of South Africans “who once admired him no longer believe a word he (Mbeki) says”. (See “Mbeki did not ‘approve’ arrest” October 22).

Thabo Mbeki came to office hailed as “Mr Delivery”. Riots all over the country attest to the reality that he has failed dismally. We have 40% unemployment, 6-million South Africans will have died of AIDS-related diseases by 2010, and 8-million live in shacks. SA’s ranking in the United Nations human development index has plummeted 35 places since 1990.

Church and civil society leaders alerted Mbeki at the 1996- 98 Defence Review — and earlier — that SA’s urgent priority was to redress crises of poverty inherited from the apartheid era. Instead of decisive action to deal with these problems, Mbeki’s presidency has unleashed corruption and crime by enriching a few financial and political cronies. Corruption is theft from the poor, who may be illiterate but not stupid. Mbeki has betrayed them, and the struggle against apartheid.

The common denominator of numerous scandals and cover-ups is political protection in return for kickbacks to the African National Congress, of which the arms deal is the most notorious.

In trying to squelch investigations into these scandals, Mbeki has turned Parliament, the chapter nine institutions and judicial system into rubber stamps, thus destroying the checks and balances of our hard-won constitutional democracy.

The British government admits that bribes were paid to secure the BAE warplane contracts, but pleads that the estimated bribes of R1,6bn were “within acceptable limits”. ThyssenKrupp likewise admits that it paid bribes to secure the warship contracts.

Mbeki’s cover-up strategies have backfired. The arms deal scandal is now under investigation in at least eight countries, including the US, plus by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He may yet face impeachment and removal from office.

This letter first appeared in the Oct 24 Business Day.