'Corruption rife in SA even before ANC took over'

By Thando Wababa Time of article published Jan 18, 2017

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IN SOUTH Africa you will be pardoned for thinking that the word “corruption” was coined after 1994. There are some South Africans whom I am sure believe there was no need for the word before 1994, because there was no use for it. Corruption as an act was invented by the ANC – this is a narrative that has been fed to South Africans.

The narrative further says corruption has a colour and a home. It is black and its home is the ANC. There is nowhere else you will see corruption in South Africa except in the ANC. Time invested in drilling this narrative has paid off in that the number of South Africans who believe in it, increases every day. There is nothing they can be told by anyone, especially those associated with the ANC.

The narrative asserts that corruption cannot be anywhere else except in the ANC and its associates. Suspicion of corruption must be investigated nowhere else other than in the ANC and its leaders. All sorts of conspiracy theories will be advanced, from diversion of attention from the ANC government's misdemeanours to creating a smokescreen where corruption resides in the ANC government.

This is clearly and aptly illustrated by alleged irregular transactions that happened between Absa and the South African Reserve Bank between 1985 and 1992. Three investigations were instituted on this by the democratic government at different times.

Reports containing findings and recommendations were submitted to the democratic government. What happened to them, we do not know, but we would be interested to find out.

In 2011 the then public protector was finally convinced to investigate what had happened to investigative reports on the matter conducted using taxpayers’ money.

The public protector personally investigated, but she did not complete the work. She then left office for the new public protector to take over.

The new public protector attempted to drive the incomplete work to finality. Through a leaked report Absa was fingered. One of the remedial actions was that Absa should pay back the money.

Where are we?

We are at a point where the ANC government’s inaction on three reports plus one becomes a non-issue even though millions of rand from the public purse were used to conduct those investigations.

The findings of those probes point to Absa, and run contrary to the narrative that corruption is black and resides in the ANC and its associates.

It is now time to advance all conspiracy theories and for retrieval of overused defensive statements that never made sense.

These include that someone is trying to divert attention from ANC government corruption scandals; that it is a smokescreen trying to cover up corruption in the ANC; and that the past should be left alone and that the present mess should be dealt with.

The leaked report demands that Absa pays back R2.25 billion.

If it was an institution or an individual associated with the ANC, almost everybody would have taken out his or her calculator, and we would have been told how much of the contribution the amount would have made in the Fees Must Fall call, and how many houses would have been built from that amount. But it is not the ANC. It is Absa. The message is: do not touch Absa and hands off our past.

All South Africans suspected of corruption and criminality must be investigated, especially when the public purse is involved. Importantly, funds must be returned. This must always be done, regardless of complexities envisaged, passage of time, institutions involved, individual(s) status as well as colour of their skins.

Our developmental agenda needs those funds.

Thando Wababa

Bellville

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