Forget Zuma, Maimane and Malema, South Africa needs a new leader free of party politics.

When Emmanuel Macron was elected in France it gave me a little hope for South Africa. Here was a 39-year-old leader who’d rejected mainstream parties. He was elected as an independent candidate, with the backing of a movement he’d founded only a year before. François Fillon, the man whom everyone expected would be president, had been involved in a corruption scandal.

Something is rotten in South Africa.

South African politics could do with a clean up too. Our Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu reported that national and provincial government departments have accumulated R46 billion from irregular expenditure during the 2015/16 financial year. This means that R46 billion has been spent but cannot be accounted for. This 80 per cent increase in irregular expenditure on the previous year demonstrates a clear disregard of South African taxpayers.

Zuma laughs as the money rolls in © Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty

Something is rotten in South Africa. And if the disease is ‘corruption’, it’s not surprising that the president is at the forefront of the pandemic.

The Constitutional Court found the president and his cabinet guilty of contravening the Constitution in the Nkandla Report judgment of March 2016. The Hawks, South Africa’s independent directorate which investigates corruption, are investigating corruption charges laid by the DA against President Jacob Zuma following the release of the State of Capture Report. It implicates Jacob Zuma in alleged criminal activities; he isn’t directly involved in all the corruption that has been taking place in the country, but he is guilty of not taking firm action against it.

Mmusi Maimane trying to look suave © MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty

The leader of the ANC is not the only one who has been up to no good. Patricia de Lille, the DA’s Mayor of Cape Town, failed to record the loss of R28 million while hosting the Cape Town Cup last year in reports at a finance committee meeting. The city’s council executive director for tourism, events and marketing, Anton Groenewald, quit his job after this scandal broke.

Corrupt individuals can hide behind the facade of a political party.

The outspoken Economic Freedom Fighter leader Julius Malema isn’t clean either. In August 2015 a corruption case involving Malema was dismissed by a judge who said he had waited too long for the trial. Malema and some business associates faced 52 charges including fraud and racketeering. His family trust received a R52 million contract after Malema and his associates allegedly misrepresented themselves to the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department. It is also alleged that Julius used this money to buy a farm and a Mercedes.

Julius Malema © Getty

Party politics is a breeding ground for corruption. Corrupt individuals can hide behind the facade of a political party; individuals don’t take responsibility. There are too many fingers being pointed and no action taken.

We survived Apartheid only to be enslaved by a new terror.

What we need is a new system that is free of party allegiances. A system that allows South Africans to choose leaders not because of their affiliation but because of merit. We need leaders who are not influenced by the philosophy of a political party, but leaders who are free-thinking and put the needs of South Africa first.

This isn’t a local issue. Emmanuel Macron in some ways is the progressive face of the same movement which swept the outsider Trump to power. The corruption in South African politics makes Trump’s campaign message almost appealing: ‘Drain the swamp!’

We survived Apartheid only to be enslaved by a new terror: self-entitled narcissists who preach equality but practice selfishness. Which young person would aspire to lead any of our political parties nowdays? No one, unless they’re out for a quick buck.