The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in collaboration with the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) hosted a civil society conference under the theme “Defeating State Capture and Rebuilding the State”.

The event, which was packed to capacity took place at the Mancosa campus in Johannesburg. In his welcome address, chairperson of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Board, Derek Hanekom commented that developments were being made in cleaning up from state capture and corruption. He added that the courageous voices speaking out against corrupt elements would not be silenced.

Retired Justice of the Constitutional Court Johann Kriegler spoke of how state capture continues to erode our democracy, reminding the crowds of a decade when government went rogue. Justice Kriegler broke down the levels of state capture from national, provincial and down to the local level, and its devastating effects.

He warned that top level institutions established to address critical issues have been weakened, posing challenges in securing prosecutions. According to Justice Kriegler, the judiciary cannot clean up the rot alone, however a moral breakthrough was needed, coupled with honesty, truth and moral standing to re-establish and rehabilitate institutions. South African Revenue Services Commissioner Edward Kieswetter described the revenue service as a ‘bloody crime scene’. However, he reassured the attendees that reform had begun. Listen to the commissioner’s address by clicking here.

Kieswetter was speaking during a panel discussion that focused on the PIC, the Nugent and the Zondo Commissions. The intimate breakaway segments provided for deeper engagements on issues pertaining public advocacy, parliamentary oversight and lawfare.

Former deputy finance minister and author Mcebisi Jonas closed off the thought-provoking conference by delivering a keynote on the status of the country and the work that needed to be done. Jonas called for collective action from civil society bodies who are interested in holding government and business accountable. This, he said though, is no easy feat but is long-term work. The former deputy minister and author of After Dawn: Hope After State Capture also noted that there is a fight back coordinated to silence those who speak out against state capture.

Read more by clicking here. Also read the opinion piece by Mbongiseni Buthelezi and Tracy Ledger who are researchers at PARI as they discuss the central role of civil society organisations in holding government and business to account which is available here.

You can also read the article by AKF Board Chairperson, Derek Hanekom which is available by clicking here. A presentation of PARI research which was delivered by Tracy Ledger, Dr Florencia Belvedere as well as Wits Professor Jonathan Klaaren, based on the appointments and dismissals of public servants and municipalities can be found here.

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