SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana told Parliament that state capture was a well-designed plan to siphon off the assets of the state by a corrupt clique . File picture: David Ritchie

Johannesburg - The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has told Parliament that Eskom represents a perfect example of state capture and that the clergy is opposed to the controversial nuclear build estimated at R1 trillion.

SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said that state capture was a well-designed plan to siphon off the assets of the state by a corrupt clique that was weakening governance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Mpumlwana was briefing MPs of the portfolio committee on public enterprises on the contents of the SACC's own report showing how President Jacob Zuma, some cabinet ministers and officials of SOEs allegedly facilitated the plundering of the parastatals to the benefit of Zuma's son Duduzane and the Gupta family.

He said the state capture culprits were doing this by weeding out skilled professionals, securing access to rent-seeking opportunists, securing access to strategic procurement, and securing control over fiscal sovereignty.

"Eskom is a perfect example of State capture. Both [former Eskom chief executive] Brian Molefe and [Eskom chief financial officer] Anoj Singh were redeployed there from Transnet," Mpumlwana said.

"It was clear there was mafia-style nefarious control of SOEs by an elite that is pivoted around the president of the Republic, and that is systemically siphoning the assets of the state and blunting any possible effective means for law enforcement."

"It became clear that the problem was far greater than, and beyond, corruption, but rather large-scale design for nefarious mafia-style control of public enterprises and other significant governmental agencies and state organs."

Mpumlwana said their report began when the SACC National Conference created an "Unburdening Panel Process" in April 2016 for any person who may wish to confess how they were pressured by high-profile individuals into corruption in return for a promotion, an attractive position or money or any other favour. 

"Indeed, we encountered a number of officials who were pressured to divert funds inappropriately to certain activities that had nothing to do with the work and purposes of the budget," Mpumlwana said.

"There were people who were prevailed upon to rig tender processes in favour of certain companies and individuals, or bend regulations for a specific desired outcome."

He said the rot in state capture went beyond Eskom and was firmly entrenched even at provincial and local government level. 

"The rot goes beyond SOEs to other organs of state, it had a cancerous effect. Those upholding the Constitution are sidelined. Skilled and committed professionals are weeded out, replaced by others who do not act in the interests of the country," Mpumlwana said. 

"There is a lot of attention being focused on disturbing revelations of national level goings-on with daily colourful emails to fuel public interest, but in fact we know that there is much that is happening at local and provincial levels."

Mpumlwana said the SACC was also opposed to the nuclear build due to environmental reasons, the higher cost associated with nuclear compared to renewable energy, and the secret procurement over which government wanted to build nuclear.

The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) followed the SACC with its own presentation to the committee.

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