Gordhan praises Brazil's harsh punishments for graft
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Johannesburg - Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called for harsh punishments similar to the arrest of leaders found involved in corruption in Brazil.
Gordhan spoke out on Monday against the scourge of rampant corruption, saying there should be harsh consequences for those involved in graft.
He also once again warned against the use of radical economic transformation statements for the benefit of a select few.
Gordhan was delivering a keynote address at the University of Johannesburg’s leadership seminar in Auckland Park. He challenged people to establish what state capture meant and who its beneficiaries were.
“Let us all talk about connecting the dots. What does that (state capture) refer to, where is the money going and what are ordinary people deprived of?”
Gordhan said people needed to understand the damage state capture was causing.
“We have a growing number of people who find themselves in despair. They are not beneficiaries of the kind of economic advances that are currently taking place,” he said. “Inequality should be at the centre of future policy-making. The rand is being captured by the few at the expense of the many.”
Gordhan said the capture of key institutions in the state machinery either helped a select few to influence policy direction or to blatantly “extract billions of rand” from the volatile economy.
He said there was confusion on radical economic transformation as some articulated it in a particular way while others explained it to “mislead people”.
President Jacob Zuma has, of late, been in the forefront of calls for radical economic transformation, including expropriation of land without compensation
Gordhan warned against corruption, saying those who had their fingers in the cookie jar needed to know “there’s going to be serious consequences” in the same way that Brazil had jailed government leaders guilty of corruption.
Late last year, a former speaker of Brazil’s lower House was arrested on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, among others, as part of a graft investigation into state oil company Petrobas.
“We have a great country to look after. It doesn’t belong to one family I have a stake in it I have to make sure that it remains true to the constitution of the country,” Gordhan said.
“If only we can get over the culture of corruption both in the public and private sector. Those are resources which should be made available to fight poverty,” he said.
Allegations of state capture by Zuma’s friends, the Guptas, were at the centre of the fallout between the president and Gordhan, and have become the source of calls for the president to step down.
At the weekend, it emerged that some ANC leaders had approached veterans, including Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to persuade Zuma to quit before the end of his term in 2019.
Spokesperson for Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe’s presidential campaign, Sipho Masuku, said senior church leaders and former state presidents from across the continent had also been approached.
Addressing IFP supporters during his by-elections campaign in Nquthu, northern KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, Buthelezi revealed that he had been requested to speak to Zuma “in my capacity as an elder”.
“But as I have said in Parliament, the president won’t listen to me. If he won’t listen to the stalwarts of his own party or the cry of the people of South Africa, he surely won’t heed the wisdom of Buthelezi,” he said.
Buthelezi said it was the ANC that should deal with the issue of Zuma because “this problem was created by the ANC, and it can only be solved by the ANC”.
“But unless ANC MPs, who hold the majority, vote with their conscience, it will be yet another exercise in futility,” he said.
Currently, opposition parties are waiting for the Constitutional Court to make a ruling on the UDM’s application on a secret ballot.
However, Buthelezi said he had little hope that the Constitutional Court would rule in favour of the secret ballot.
“I must say that I would be surprised if the court can order the National Assembly to have a secret ballot. When I studied constitutional law at university, we were taught the rule of separation of powers,” he said.
Masuku said Buthelezi had been approached as an elder and statesman who could reason with Zuma.
“There are also church leaders who approached the president, and former heads of state from the continent have approached the sitting president of the Republic of South Africa to consider stopping aside.”
Masuku said a panel of eminent persons had gone across the continent to lobby influential former presidents to talk to Zuma.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said there had been no approach to Buthelezi or other statesman to ask Zuma to step down. “There has been no such thing,” he said.
The Presidency had not responded to queries by the time of publication.