Addressed to gathering,‘United against Corruption: Building a culture of accountability for sustainable development’, taking place on 9th December 2019 at the University of South Africa.
Attention: Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu
We, the undersigned organisations, on International Anti-Corruption Day, reiterate our commitment to defeating state capture and rebuilding the state.
Over the last few years, we have been actively involved in:
- Taking a decisive stance against the capture of our state;
- Opposing the brazen looting of our fiscus;
- Exposing and speaking out against the manipulation of our political and criminal justice systems; and
- Demanding an end to unethical and inefficient governance.
Failures in this regard by the state, political parties, business, labour and in part, society itself, have diverted the programme of transformation that our country was meant to pursue to uplift the marginalised. It shifted resources from those who desperately needed them, towards a rent seeking and greedy elite.
It has undermined our democracy and its processes, and has been central to the near collapse of our economy. State capture has made our people suffer.
The United Against Corruption gathering is being hosted here today by the Public Service Commission, the United Nations and the University of South Africa. It draws in a range of speakers who occupy senior positions within the state, including from the criminal justice system. Its audience is likely to include many from within civil society, from business, labour and the faith-based sector.
It provides a unique opportunity that has the potential to show broad societal and state commitment to truly tackling state capture and rebuilding the state, as well as confronting the state capture ‘fightback’ that seeks to undermine the gains we have made so far in dealing with the problem.
In July 2019, some 30 civil society organisations put their names to a document calling for the revival of “broad fronts which helped us achieve key victories in the fight against state capture over the last few years”.
This conference is one of several initiatives that has the potential to support and promote the idea of developing joint platforms to work on common causes in relation to defeating state capture and rebuilding the state.
It is within this context that we call on this conference to:
1. Acknowledge some of the work done by the criminal justice system in 2019 indicating that there is a forward movement in tackling state capture and corruption.
- Some of the recent positive indicators that action is being taken includes the arrest of former state security Minister Bongani Bongo; the arrests of a group implicated in the Amathole District Municipality toilet scandal; recent raids on offices of Sekunjalo’s Iqbal Survé and the property of former eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede; the freezing of Regiments Capital’s assets and the tightening of the noose around Trillian; and the charging of On Point Engineering’s directors.
- There should be a review of all positions held by senior and middle management within criminal justice institutions. They should undergo lifestyle audits and government should consider implementing regular voice stress polygraphs to ensure that management within these institutions remains honest and ethical.
- Criminal justice institutions should be further capacitated to deal with the mass of investigative and prosecutorial work related to state capture.
2. Highlight that there is a growing public impatience about the pace at which work is being done to defeat state capture and bring those implicated in it to account. There is an urgency to finalise cases and begin the prosecution process.
- We find it extremely concerning that some of those implicated in state capture and corruption continue to serve in public office. It is a slap in the face of public when these officials, who are severely implicated in state capture, corruption and unethical conduct, are selected to serve in official positions. These appointments are made without the slightest bit of shame and point towards a shallow commitment by government to truly dealing with state capture.
- There have been a series of exposés of senior members of political parties implicated in state capture and corruption, but no visible progress is being made with either these parties dealing decisively with such members, or with law enforcement agencies taking action against these individuals.
- Action must be taken against businesses, consultancies, law and auditing firms and banks who are implicated in enabling state capture, or who are involved in broader forms of corruption.
- The longer the delay in investigating, making arrests and prosecuting, the greater the possibility for those implicated in state capture to destroy valuable evidence.
- There is a growing concern that the state capture ‘fightback’ is actively mobilising and compromising efforts aimed at cleaning up and reforming the state. The ‘fightback’ stands to be emboldened by the ‘dilly dallying’ of the state.
- We express concern about recent reports of threats being levelled against the staff of the office of the Auditor General. In conducting their work, they should be protected.
3. Ensure that government begins looking at a coherent and comprehensive response to not only corruption in general, but state capture, specifically, in its entirety. This plan should include all role players; both within state institutions and those in civil society; business and labour in rallying against state capture.
– Forums such as the National Anti-Corruption Strategy reference group must be strengthened and capacitated to develop this plan.
– Government should host an anti-state capture summit drawing in the broadest range of stakeholders to draw input into the plan.
– Government must be committed to and put the necessary resources into implementing the plan.
– There should be commitment by the state to review and consider adopting reform policy proposals developed by civil society to prevent current and future capture.
4. Put pressure on government to conclude its extradition treaties and agreements with countries including the United Arab Emirates and India to bring the Guptas and their associates implicated in state capture back to South Africa to be held accountable here.
– We are specifically highlighting the Gupta brothers and their associate Salim Essa, who have recently had sanctions imposed on them by the United States. This family has symbolically come to represent state capture and without them being held accountable in South Africa, there is little to be said about the state’s ability to actually tackle state capture.
– The cases against this family and Essa should be prioritised and speedily concluded. The National Prosecuting Authority must urgently prosecute.
– With prosecution in place, the South African government can call on its global counterparts to have the family extradited and brought before the law here.
– We call on the state to explore the possibilities of freezing Gupta assets in this country, and to terminate all trade relations with the family’s businesses that may still be in place.
On International Anti-Corruption Day, we urge this conference to not only discuss the problems arising from state capture. We want you to commit to taking action, not only on issues related to past corruption and capture, but by also identifying what urgently needs to be done to prevent current and future instances of capture.
We do not want this conference to be a ‘talk shop’. We think it is time to ‘walk the talk’. In doing so, we will support your efforts, but will also maintain a critical outlook where there are failures and lack of progress.
At a recent civil society conference against state capture, organisations affirmed that they will “continue advocating for an ethical and efficient Constitutional democracy, in which the interest of the people is put first”. We have committed to strengthening democracy, defeating state capture and rebuilding our country.
We hope that this is a commitment that you share and pledge to honour.
- Active Citizens Movement
- Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
- Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute
- Centre for Complex Systems in Transition
- Congress of Business and Economics
- Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
- Federation of Unions of South Africa
- Freedom Under Law
- Forensics for Justice
- Greater Mayfair Civic Association
- Helen Suzman Foundation
- Jamiatul Ulama South Africa
- Johannesburg Against Injustice
- Lawyers for Human Rights
- Legal Resources Centre
- Marikana Support Campaign
- Merebank Justice Network
- Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse
- Patriotic Movement
- Phakama Whistle-blowing Coalition
- Peace Centre, Cape Town
- Public Affairs Research Institute
- South African Council of Churches
- South African Tamil Federation
- Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute
- Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education
- United Civics of Ward 58
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
082 373 1143