Inviting one of democracy’s core pillars back into the fold — like a long-lost loved one or a missing part that had been found — was devastating. In any modern government, accountability is a given, a fulfilment of the contract between voters and elected officials. If we allow it to be forgotten, we can forget about a free and fair future.
The damning Nugent commission of inquiry, set up to investigate serious misconduct at Sars, was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it exposed how this arrogant, unanswerable culture had trickled down into the public and private sectors; on the other, it showed a real desire to uproot this behaviour on all levels. I’m under no illusion that either of these inquiries has resulted in fundamental change to our political status quo. To ensure that their legacy is more than a bit of smear ’n spin in the upcoming elections, their findings should advise both prosecuting those who have violated our Constitution in the past and paving the way for a more accountable future.
Over the past nine years we have been haunted by the absence of this very important value. If we expect accountability in our daily interactions — from our partners, children, associates, and ourselves — we should demand that our leaders are honest and prepared to face consequences humbly. This is the foundation upon which trust is built; something that our politicians — not us — have to work hard at regaining. The onus is on them to respect their side of the agreement because we, as citizens, have the ability to reshape the terms for our country’s future.
When we look back on 2019, it should be on a year when hope for a thriving nation became a concrete reality, when power was transferred back to the people, and when accountability was reinstated to its rightful, righteous position.
Sibeko is an entrepreneur and the director of the FNB Joburg Art Fair