Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who heads up the Commission of Inquiry into state capture. PHOTO: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who heads up the Commission of Inquiry into state capture. PHOTO: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Why we need a 'War Chest' for Project Re-Capture

By Chuck Stephens Time of article published Nov 7, 2018

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As anyone who follows the news knows, there is now a fleet of vehicles to reign in on State Capture. Starting with Zondo’s State Capture Commission and including SARS Nugent Commission.  Others are being appointed each with a specific remit, usually to advise the President on what executive actions he should take.

Zondo already requested more time – he said that the original six months was far too short, and he applied for an extension to two years.  There are always cost implications.

The Minister of State Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, is the “point man” for the parastatals or SOEs.  Because these operate at arm’s length from government, outside the main “silos” of the Departments, and basically in the business world, they proved to be no contest for the wiles of the Guptas and other looters who plundered them shamelessly.

But chasing down these carpet-baggers comes at a high cost.  We know this from personal experience in Mpumalanga province, where we blew the whistle in 2012 as provincial hosts of the Community Work Programme.  It was another cash-cow for ANC cronies.  As a result, we have been targeted by COGTA which has tried its best to keep the lid on our protestations.

Our only option was to revert to litigation, and six years, later we are just reaching the stage of Pre-trial in some cases and Trial in other cases.  The bills add up.  Chasing these looters takes its toll.  They count on the fatigue that will set in.  Key witnesses emigrate.  Police files go missing mysteriously, losing evidence.

The Artful Dodger of this sordid chapter in South Africa’s history is the ex-president.  Not only are the State’s legal bills horrendous, but he and others turn the tables and insist that the State must pay for their legal fees as well.  This trending is slowly being reversed as the consciousness sinks in that these people are really criminals.

In a recent speech at Oxford, Pravin Gordhan summed it up this way: “State capture, a counter-revolution, actively aimed to destroy our fledgling democracy for the benefit of a group of politically-connected organised criminals.”

He estimates that R100 billion has been “leaked” out of the various schemes of these crooks.

Cyril Ramaphosa promised to hold an Investment Conference to raise money to fill in this hole.  This has just been held, and he managed to raise pledges of R230 billion.  This was the first major test of the confidence that is slowly returning to South Africa.  It was an expression optimism.

The danger is that Project Re-capture will lose momentum, as the focus shifts to the larger challenge of kick-starting a stalled economy.

Pravin Gordhan has started a data-base to track all the looting and plundering that has been and is being uncovered.  It will take at least a decade to track down all these cases, in part because the perpetrators were smart enough to close the Scorpions.  It was the only police unit that could both investigate and prosecute.  Cleverly, the brigands left us with a compromised system of law enforcement that has the SAPS to investigate and the NPA to prosecute.  By driving this wedge in deep between these two key functions, the legacy of the kleptocrats protected itself. 

“A house that is divided against itself cannot stand”.

Then they went on to all but capture the NPA!
There are even calls for a special police unit to be created, just to chase up the crimes of State Capture.

At the very least, another pledge-conference should be held, to raise funds for the mountain of litigations ahead.  Project Re-capture needs a War Chest.  Pledges are a kind of investment – they could even be loans not grants.  To be paid back from the booty recovered from the plunderers.

They are sure to keep ducking and diving.  Blame-shifting is their mantra.  Only Nene so far has bowed his head and confessed his sins.  Most of them will keep up their court battles, and keep asking that the State pay for their legal costs as well.

The buck stops at the President’s desk, and we note that he is very cautious about firing cadres, because of the political consequences that it could have for him.  This slows down the momentum of Project Re-capture.  But it cannot be stopped, and that is why a War Chest is needed.

The public is also encouraged to keep making donations to the NGOs that have risen from civil society when government was all but submerged in the Liquid Evil.  Without the tenacity and fortitude of these private voluntary organizations, the battle might have been lost.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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