The calm above South Africa’s storm
Twenty four hours on the ground here in South Africa tells me one exceptional thing. Mandela lived long enough for this country to cope with his death. There is no fear abroad here, grief is eclipsed by celebration that this rainbow world is no passing band-aid.
Whilst South Africa’s problems are deep and intractable, they are not such that violence or breakdown threatens. Across South Africa, there is calm, and the exuberance that flows from communities coming together in one common purpose – to celebrate the life of a man who became emblematic for both forgiveness and change.
Yet the embers of this country’s troubles do smoulder beneath today’s celebrations and, without leadership and moral example, could easily flare into something worse.
On the day Mandela died, the country’s official “Public Protector” Thuli Madonsela, appointed by parliament to root out corruption, published her report.
The report is incendiary – detailing three ministers – education; communications (now sacked); and agriculture, whom she accuses of corruption and abuse of office. Effectively, she details evidence in the report that alleges all three ministers granted contracts worth millions of pounds in return for kickbacks or favours for themselves or their families. If correct, corruption has become endemic in the ruling ANC leadership.
The ANC and President Zuma have, at various points in recent months, denied corruption allegations.
Read more from Channel 4 News on Nelson Mandela here
In the week of Mandela’s passing, newspapers here banded together and published evidence from an unpublished report, that deals with the staggering $20 million spent on President Zuma’s private home. The sums included cash spent on swimming pools, an underpass beneath a nearby road for his cattle and housing for the beasts. Zuma claims some $5 millon of that came from “gifts” to him personally. But the rest came from the public exchequer which he says were to improve security.
President Zuma’s popularity is nose-diving; the ANC’s support is suffering with it. There were forces around Zuma who were more than keen to have Mandela live at least until the eve of next spring’s elections here. The idea being that Madiba’s spell would help overcome the doubts surrounding Zuma and his ministers. Arguing about the old man’s legacy kept the family keen to maintain the life support machines that were keeping him alive.
But Mandela seems, according to my sources, to have died naturally – defying the machines, the family, and the ANC. The great man ultimately achieving his final desire – to die at home, in his own time.
Follow @jonsnowC4 on Twitter.