‘The problems are structural, they are not individual’ – Mcebisi Jonas discusses his book After Dawn: Hope After State Capture
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Mcebisi Jonas discussed his new book After Dawn: Hope After State Capture with Polity SA recently.
In October 2015, the Gupta brothers offered Jonas the position of Minister of Finance in exchange for R600-million. Then the Deputy Finance Minister, Jonas turned down the bribe and a period of deep introspection followed for him. How did we reach this point, and what did the future hold for South Africa’s democracy and the economy?
‘It was shocking,’ Jonas says. ‘But also I think the audacity began to tell me that maybe this is normal, because they were very normal about it. But it also showed that we were in a different space as a country and as the African National Congress.’
Jonas says he was aware of the nexus between certain businesspeople and politicians, but was not aware of the scale.
‘I was aware, because I mean you know how these things work,’ he says, ‘but at the same time being aware doesn’t mean you understand the extent of this thing. From that point on I really began to interrogate this thing a little bit more, and spent a lot of time trying to understand and read about what’s happening elsewhere to try and formulate a perspective.’
Jonas says as South Africans we need to confront and transform our social, political and economic realities, in order to avoid another occurrence of state capture.
‘We have to,’ Jonas says. ‘The problems are structural, they are not individual, ethical problems of individuals. There is a very strong, systemic, structural problem in the country.
‘And it’s also rooted in our history. Also, our economy is not growing, inequality is on the increase. Many people will say racial inequality remains a big problem for the country. And it’s a historical thing, they would argue. And I agree.’
Watch the interview: