South Africa: State Capture Must Be Nipped in the Bud

Published on 2nd April 2019

What happened with the appointment of the new South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kisswetter is a typical case of state capture taking root before our very own eyes. President Cyril Ramaphosa was supposed to appoint a Commissioner of SARS after a recommendation from retired Judge Nugent - who chaired a commission of inquiry to look into the fitness to hold office of former SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane - to fire Moyane. Ramaphosa then instituted a committee comprising of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Angela Bester, Dennis Davies, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, Ismail Momoniat, Thandi Orleyn and Fezekile V. Tshiqi to help him interview and recommend candidates for the position.

This committee probably sent names to Ramaphosa and he recommended Kisswetter, Kisswetter has the requisite qualifications and experience. However, the process of his appointment raises eyebrows since grassroots organisations and civil society organisations were not represented in this committee. The EFF, as an opposition party should do, has raised its objections. However, Manuel is quoted as having said he was not going to succumb to schoolboy bully tactics. .

Many people would not be wrong to accuse the President and Manuel of having a corrupt relationship going back to the early 2000’s. In 2002 when Manuel was Minister of Finance, Alexander Forbes won the tender to provide actuarial services to the R250 billion Government Employees Fund (GEPF). The tender to provide actuarial services on behalf of the GEPF and its 1.25 million members and pensioners was advertised on 27 September 2002 and was contested by a number of actuarial firms. The Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, in his capacity as interim trustee of the GEPF, the tender was awarded to Alexander Forbes. It should be noted that Manuel was the sole trustee of the GEPF.

Alexander Forbes sold 30% to the Millennium Consolidated Investments (MCI) consortium. MCI was Ramaphosa’s company Many companies lost out on this tender and once the details of how it was rigged are exposed,  they might raise hell. This is one of the corrupt deals that the EFF and political parties such as the PAC and Azapo should insist must be investigated.

Ramaphosa was elected ANC President in December last year and automatically became President of the country after his predecessor Jacob Zuma was forced to vacate the presidency on corruption and state capture grounds. Ramaphosa has not received a mandate from the voters, he only has the mandate of his party. The general elections will be held in six weeks’ time. Ramaphosa has already appointed the National Director of Public Prosecutions Ms Shamila Batohi using an almost similar approach. It has been reported that Batohi is close to former Minister of Finance who is the current Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

There are allegations of malfeasance against both Manuel and Gordhan when they were Ministers of Finance at different times. Manuel is alleged to have awarded a tender worth billions of Rand to Alexander Forbes in the early 2000’s which benefitted Ramaphosa’s company. Gordhan is alleged to have paid himself about R11 million from the Special Pension fund to which he was not entitled. The money was allegedly paid by then head of the Pension Fund Ms Marion Mbina Mthembu. Ms Marion Mbina Mthembu confirmed that indeed the then Minister of Finance was paid including other senior government officials. She alleged that the Minister qualified to receive the payment. However, she did not want to submit an affidavit and referred the investigation to Kabelo Jonathan of the GPAA.

The then Director General of the Department of Finance, Lungisa Fuzile directed the investigation to the Auditor General's report of GPAA for the financial years 2010/2011 and that a meeting be held with Ms Kristen Sukdev who is/was the Chief Executive Officer of the concerned department.

The matter was referred to the NDPP in 2017. It has been revealed by the EFF that the new head of the NDPP Shamila Batohi is close to Gordhan. This case needs a vigilant public to impress upon Batohi that we are watching her so that she should not extend special favours to Gordhan thereby subverting the law. Gordhan is a shareholder in several commercial banks. The ANC government does not think this is a conflict of interest. Mboweni was governor of the privately owned South African Reserve bank. He recently called for the privatisation of state owned enterprises.

Why were these people complaining about Jacob Zuma when they are doing the same things he was doing? When are the white ruling families who are their friends and had captured the state during apartheid to this day going to come under scrutiny?

The revelations at the state capture commission implicate the ANC. The coffers of the ANC’s investment arm and fund-raising outfit, Chancellor House should also be probed. It is clear that different ANC factions are fighting to control the state which gives them access to control of the country’s resources. The ball is now in the court of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. State capture must be nipped in the bud. 

By Sam Ditshego

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