Recently, a spade of fires at historic Government Buildings made the headline news and general society did not let this one merely fly by. In this article, we will be looking at these recent phenomena and what the public opinion and theories are. We will also address the communities conspiracy theory on the reason for these acts of arson and the link with this to corruption.
Corruption is defined as the misuse of public power for private benefit. According to Transparency International, South Africa scored 44 out of a hundred points where 0 is a high level of corruption and 100 is a low level of corruption. This means that South Africa is ranked 71 out of 180 countries as corrupt. Although South Africa is not ranked within the top 10 most corrupt counties in Africa, The South African government have a rich history of corruption since taking power in 1996. Some of the most relevant corruption scandals in South Africa are Tenderpreneurism, BEE fronting, State Capture, the Arms Deal scandal, the Travelgate scandal, the 2010 World Cup bride scandal, the collapse of VBS Mutual bank, The Tollgate issue, the fall of SOEs like SAA, DENEL, ESKOM, The POST OFFICE and many more.
in the past few months, three government buildings were set alight. It started with the House of Parliament, followed by the SANDF Basement Building, followed by the Komani Historic Town Hall.
The House of Parliament or the Parliament building was completed in 1884 and additions were constructed in the 1920s and 1980s.
The SANDF Base at Waterkloof was officially opened on 1 August 1938 as a Waterkloof Air Station. Since that time it has been in service of the SAAF. It was upgraded to Air Force Base during WWII.
The Sandstone Town Hall Building in Queenstown (Komani) was built on the original town hall site in 1858.
In the decades of existence, there were no fires or threats of any fires. Why would there be a sudden spread of fires in these beautifully constructed architectural masterpieces?
During news interviews on-site during the broadcasting of the arson event of the three historic buildings, the community outcries were exclamated. Conspiracy theories arose and it was believed by several community members that these acts of arson were an attempt by corrupt government officials to “burn the evidence” of corrupt deals that crippled communities and entities. What other reason would there be? These buildings, including the Union Buildings, are tens and even hundreds of years old without any risk of fire. Why would these three buildings suddenly be targeted in acts of arson? The public believes it is an attempt to burn evidence of corruption. To single out an incident, IOL captured the community sentiment best. It reported that ” Resident and members of the community accused the local municipality officials of setting the Komani Town Hall alight in an attempt to conceal evidence of corruption within the municipality. The chairperson of the Komani Civic Forum further extends that the local municipality is suspected of getting rid of evidence contained in books, computers, etc. by means of them being lost in a fire. Coincidently, the same week, an auditor was supposed to visit the town hall.
With regards to the SANDF Airbase in Waterkloof, it is a known fact that the Military has run out of money due to corruption and mismanagement. It would therefore be easier to ” cause a fire” to distract attention and also possibly destroy evidence.
With the parliament building being set alight, it would make the building inaccessible for some time, giving enough time to rid evidence of corruption or even have it destroyed in a fire. It also leaves room for tenderpreneur corruption with inevitable tenders for the rebuild or repair of the damage caused by the fire.
There is not a single SOE remaining that isn’t or wasn’t victim to government level corruption. The divide or split in the ruling governing party, the ANC, sees an attempt to clamp down on corrupt officials. This made room for these officials to try and get rid of implication evidence, hence the spade of government buildings being set on fire. The latter has been documented on live television to be the opinion of the broader public. In a country where SOE’s by the likes of DENEL and the SAA were seen as Top World-Class entities in the past, to almost non-existing (can’t even pay salaries) entities under a current corrupt government, ones first assumption would be that these sudden arson attempts on historic government building are a poor attempt to get rid of the evidence of corruption.