When lies are tolerated, this is what happens
When we cannot confront national lies for a period of time, like the lie that masqueraded as truth that state capture is a lie, we end up piling on institutional burdens and laws on top of the other without stopping to think as to what our institutions and our laws empower those in power and citizens to do.
That is what happens when lies are tolerated and we become normal about them.
That Parliament is about or has passed additional powers to the Auditor General begs the question of where was Parliament when lies whizzed through the institution and went unattended.
What happened to lies as they went through the executive and Parliament was supposed to hold such executive to account. Where was the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) , which is so explicit as regards financial misconduct and the roles that the Executive Authority should play and equally the Accounting Officer.
Surely to ask the Auditor-General and to usher to this authority to undertake actions of Parliament, the Executive Authority , and the Accounting Officer begs the question as to whether these arms of the state are after all necessary in the leadership and management of the state.
The powers accorded the Auditor General by the same Parliament have reduced both Parliament and the executive authority to insignificance in the leadership and dispensing with state power. In this regard and in the main politics.
By politics we advance the notion that the former prime minister of Lesotho Dr Ntsu Mokhehle defined as agreeing on how we would want to lead and manage ourselves as society .
Ushering the new powers to the Auditor General diminishes this particular role, which the PFMA had so protected and assigned to both Parliament and the executive authority. Parliament as the body elected by ourselves as citizens on our own free will fails to keep the promise agreed upon on how we would like to lead and manage ourselves through the constitution and other laws such as the PFMA. It is incumbent on society to declare such a Parliament through the ballot as irrelevant and vote it out of power. Ushering the sacred power of a vote to the auditor general cannot be rational. It is reducing the desirable technocratic strength of the state into an automaton by default, whereby people’s free choice is now in the hands of technocratic decisions.
By succumbing to lies Parliament and the executive authority emasculated itself of the political power that they derive from society. Few have understood the overpowering reality of State Capture and how it has afflicted our highest legislating authority, Parliament, and for far too long Parliament chose to condone this and looked the other way despite ample evidence pointing to rot from that the Public Protector, the Chief Justice and the Auditor General pointed to. Sadly by own admission to swallowing and defending lies, the Chief Justice adjudged parliament as having violated oath of office and to this extent opposition parties in parliament after finally for its own dissolution. The diagnosis of violating oath of office is likely not to go away as Parliament has shown the propensity to accede to the powers the auditor general is seeking.
This is a fatal error and represents of auditor general’s overreach over the executive and the legislature. The question then that should be asked is what is the use of the legislature and the executive if they cannot hold to account offenders as identified by the auditor general and in that regard clearly supported for enforcement by the PFMA especially as regards financial misconduct? What we need is to truly correct our politics. First we must confront our national lies. And never to allow them to masquerade as truths.
Dr Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician-General and the former head of Statistics South Africa.