Cape Town – Catholic bishops in South Africa have urged those implicated in the leaked Gupta emails to resign if the revelations are true.
Bishop Abel Gabuza, chairperson of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission, said that they are shocked by the revelations in the Gupta emails.
“The leaked emails, if they are authentic, show that the president’s patronage network, as well as its plans to plunder state resources, is more complex and expansive than we thought."
Last month investigative journalists leaked some of more than 100 000 emails and documents alleging improper dealings in government contracts involving the Indian-born Gupta family, who are close friends of President Jacob Zuma.
The release of the damning emails has sent shock waves through the country.
The leaked emails have indicated that the family benefited massively from Transnet contracts, received preferential treatment from Home Affairs, were sent Mineral Affairs Minister Mosebenzi Zwane's CV before he was appointed and that ministers and the South African Revenue Service gave them secret information.
“The problem of state capture would not have escalated this far if we had a policy that demands compulsory disclosure of corporate donations to politicians and to political parties. We therefore ask all the political parties in Parliament to work together to enact such a policy as a matter of urgency," Gabuza said.
"We also call upon the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to require public companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders. Public companies should not be allowed to spend the money of shareholders – among them institutional investors – on political parties without informing them."
Gabuza said that the ANC at its policy conference at the end of June should also consider the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Court with specialised prosecutors and judges.
“This would provide a stronger adjudication mechanism for timely and expeditious disposal of corruption and corruption-related cases.”
Gabuza said that while it is true that corruption was a problem before Zuma came into office, it has worsened under his watch.
“The continued allegations of corruption throughout his term of office have weakened the state’s resolve and credibility to fight the cancer which is corruption. As a result, greed and corruption have now become the normal way of organising our social, political and economic relationships in South Africa. The moral fibre of our nation is clearly broken.
“Most of the delivery points for public services (Home Affairs, schools, licence renewal points, traffic police, police stations, clinics, hospitals) have now become collection points for bribes. Both in the public and the private sector one can only get a job by bribing somebody."
The bishop also called for the election of new ANC leadership capable of leading from the front.
“The longer we have a president and Cabinet ministers who are tainted by serious allegations of corruption, the more the culture of corruption and bribery will entrench itself so deeply in our national psyche that it will be almost impossible to eradicate it in the future," Gabuza said.
"We therefore make a plea to the ANC to consider this factor when it chooses its president and new leadership at the end of the year. The ANC owes it to the country to ensure that the new ANC president, to be elected at the end of the year, has both the political capacity to demand accountability from the current president and the ethical credibility required to lead from the front in the fight against corruption in our country," he said.