Thuli Madonsela. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

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FM Edition:

This week marks the end of an era in the national life of SA in many ways. Public protector Thuli Madonsela completed her stint as the third incumbent in that office; finance minister Pravin Gordhan is a criminal suspect accused of two counts of fraud; and universities are literally on fire as some students are determined to destroy everything before them in the name of free education.

For a man of integrity such as Gordhan to now be pursued by the National Prosecuting Authority, using what resembles spuriously devised criminal charges, shows how we have plunged to the lowest depths as a nation.

Gordhan’s integrity (unquestionable, in the eyes of normal, patriotic citizens) probably will not allow him to continue serving as finance minister.

That is exactly what the forces of darkness want.

And it is this darkness that SA needs before the brightness of the dawn.

This imminent darkness may just bring forth the main battle pitting the good people in the ANC, state, government and all progressive citizens against the evil forces in their midst.

Enter Sipho Pityana. This gentleman of the liberation struggle and chairman of AngloGold Ashanti is one of the many genuinely good people inside the ANC.

After invoking the words of Mpilo WB Rubusana to call on the sleepy section of his party to rise and defend the treasures being stolen from under their noses by their own kind, Pityana has upped the ante and persists in his call for Jacob Zuma to resign as president, or be fired by the ANC.

Pityana, like Edmund Burke, knows that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.

Now, as he did during the dark days of apartheid, Pityana has rolled up his sleeves and taken on the struggle to rid SA of inept, corrupt leadership.

Back then he had nothing to lose. Unlike his erstwhile comrades, who are paralysed by fear, Pityana now has no fear of losing the riches he has amassed as a businessman.

At last week’s dinner to celebrate 40 years of the Black Management Forum, Pityana received a hero’s welcome from the 700-800 mainly young black professionals in attendance.

The master of ceremonies who introduced Pityana had to wait for the sustained applause and ululations to die down before introducing the new president of the Black Business Council, Danisa Baloyi — she of the Fidentia Ponzi scheme that stole money from poor widows and orphans — and Zuma crony and praise-singer Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi.

The reception couldn’t have been more different. People went back to their conversations and were indifferent to Manyi and Baloyi, if not contemptuous of them.

Madonsela gave the keynote address. The high esteem with which she is regarded by a grateful nation showed in the reception she received: a sustained standing ovation that made her wait a while before she could start her speech.

The crowd hung on her every word, in complete silence. One careless individual’s mobile phone rang while Madonsela was speaking. If looks could kill! About 1,600 eyes trained sternly on the unprofessional individual, who sheepishly switched off the offending device.

The reverence shown to Madonsela and Pityana at the meeting, and to Gordhan generally, contrasted with the disdain shown to Manyi and Baloyi. This is a direct result of the choices these people have made.

Madonsela, Pityana and Gordhan are shining examples of what dedicated, selfless and principled professionals and citizens are made of.

Without her public protector’s office being given any additional legal powers or resources, by sheer dedication, hard work and principled leadership, Madonsela turned it into a most powerful and respected institution. I doff my hat to her.