As Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was lovingly laid to rest with full state honors, her beloved country was being buffeted by published reports of a massive diversion of monies from the most vulnerable people, to whom she dedicated her life, to the wealthy.
Among the victims of the apparent looting of government funds are Black farmers in the Eastern Cape. Reporters from the Saturday Dispatch found that promised lands were abandoned, unproductive and derelict.
In Vrede, in the province of Free State, a dairy project meant for Black farmers was skimmed of $21 million in public funds. A family with close ties to former President Jacob Zuma took over the government-backed project.
Prosecutors say only about 1 percent of the money invested by the province actually went into dairy farming. Leaked emails indicate that some of the money was sent to the United Arab Emirates and put into accounts registered to the Guptas, close friends of President Zuma. The money then made its way back to South Africa through a maze of bank transfers, according to spreadsheets, logs and an invoice in the email trove.
The Black farmers who were supposed to be beneficiaries of the project ended up receiving nothing — an outcome that, to many, symbolized the corruption that flourished under the ANC.
In his state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to resurrect the economy and create jobs, adding “This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.”
A onetime anti-apartheid labor leader, Mr. Ramaphosa went into business in the late 1990s and quickly became one of the richest men on the continent, with a fortune now estimated at $450 million.
Perhaps the biggest unprosecuted crime in the country, however, is a multi-billion dollar arms deal that included advanced weaponry such as warships, fighter aircraft and new submarines to “counter military threats.”
European arms dealers had long been preparing for this. With the extensive use of bribes – estimated at one billion dollars – they proceeded to sell weapons that the country did not need and could not afford.
With the stepping down of Jacob Zuma and his immunity lifted, the former president must now face corruption charges over the $2.5 billion arms deal.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had opposed the excessive spending on weapons.