The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation welcomes action taken by law enforcement agencies in recent months tackling alleged corruption.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton, indicated that it “gives one a sense of hope that investigations are now finally yielding results, with big cases being prosecution ready”.
Balton referred to Tuesday’s warrant of arrest for ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule in relation to the asbestos housing audit case, which is expected to appear before Court this week. He also cited developments in recent months in the VBS and Bosasa cases.
“At the same time, the consistent work of the Zondo Commission must be highlighted and commended,” he said. He reiterated the importance of the amendment to the Commission’s rules, which now allow it to work with the National Prosecuting Authority.
“Cumulatively, the warrants of arrest, the Court appearances and the summonses before the Zondo Commission send a strong message that allegations of corruption cannot simply be swept under the carpet,” Balton said.
“Taking a tough stance and investigating allegations of corruption is not about playing politics. If a party’s Secretary General – or any other politician, public servant, business person or professional – is arrested and they are innocent, then they should not be worried about standing before a Court of law.
“Tackling corruption is fundamentally about justice and redress. It is about ensuring that the money meant for housing, for PPE equipment, for decent school toilets and for electricity doesn’t get stolen along the way, and if it does, the thieves are swiftly arrested.
“It is still fresh in our minds how money meant for emerging farmers in Vrede allegedly ended up paying for a massive wedding at Sun City. The Asset Forfeiture Unit recently seized a Porsche and other luxury vehicles in relation to the Free State asbestos auditing case. This should be juxtaposed against the dangerous reality faced by poor people living in asbestos homes in the province.”
Balton said, “Corruption is corruption – it is not economic transformation as some try and make it out to be.”
He added that the work being conducted by law enforcement is complemented by ongoing civil society action. “Organisations involved in the Orange Mask Campaign – focused on Covid-19 and other corruption – have been demonstrating on a weekly basis, hosting information sharing sessions and developing new policy ideas. There is growing momentum leading up to December 9, marked as International Anti-Corruption Day, where we will amplify the call for looters to don orange overalls.”
He cautioned though, “While we are optimistic about action being taken against corruption, we have merely scratched the surface of the issue. Corrupt networks remain entrenched, our procurement policies are not foolproof and political party funding remains extremely murky.
“The Covid-19 period taught us the lesson we did not learn well enough following years of state capture: that unless we have proper transparency, oversight and accountability, our public money will be not safe from the thieves.”