Bid to criminalise politicians abusing positions

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans to criminalise abuse of positions by public office bearers. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans to criminalise abuse of positions by public office bearers. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 10, 2023


THE government is planning to criminalise political office bearers for abusing their positions of authority.

According to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s progress report on the implementation of his response to the findings and recommendations of the commission of inquiry into state capture, headed by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the Department of Justice has been directed to research the creation of an offence of “political or constitutional malpractice”.

The report is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The matter is under consideration at the SA Law Reform Commission, where research is being conducted. The government has said the write-up would be finalised by its promised due date.

The report added that the recommendation to amend the Political Party Funding Act to criminalise donations to political parties, in the expectation of access to procurement tenders or contracts, had been accepted.

”This amendment will be made alongside other consequential amendments that will be required following the approval of the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before Parliament,” read the report.

The National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council has included the Political Party Funding Act as one of the focus areas of its work and will publish an advisory to Ramaphosa.

Other plans include the government implementing Chief Justice Zondo’s report, among them prioritising recommendations to ensure that the Asset Forfeiture Unit makes use of the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act which provides for the seizure and confiscation of assets that are the proceeds of crime, which the government says will hit the corrupt where it hurts the most – in the pocket.

”A specialist ‘enablers team’ was established in June 2023 to focus solely on the enablers of state capture as identified in the (commission’s) recommendations and which enablers directly and/or indirectly assisted the alleged Gupta criminal enterprise.“

The National Prosecuting Authority has frozen R14.18 billion in assets in state capture-related cases, while another R5.4bn having been recovered and returned to the state.

An additional 73 delinquency proceedings have been opened. Former directors of state-owned enterprises implicated in evidence presented to the commission have been compiled by the Department of Public Enterprises.

The Companies Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is processing complaints concerning 13 former directors of Eskom.

”Cases against the remaining directors planned to be registered with CIPC by December 31, 2023. All relevant recommendations for investigation and action against individuals and entities for alleged violations of statutory or professional prescripts have been directed to bodies such as the SA Institute of Tax Practitioners, SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors,” states the report.

The National Treasury is awaiting feedback from the various bodies while the CIPC has issued compliance notices to three of the 20 private sector entities under investigation for state capture activities such as Swissport, Homix and JM Aviation.

This was after a 40-day notice period expired in July. The cases have been handed over to the Office of the State Attorney for legal action.

The government said other companies were being pursued and that some had either been liquidated or dissolved. Many individuals were being pursued for further legal action.

For example, former SAA board member and erstwhile chairperson of its risk and audit committee, Yakhe Kwinana, was fined R6.1 million and Saica barred Kwinana from acting as a chartered accountant earlier this year.

The National Treasury’s barring of companies implicated at the commission from doing business with the state remains on hold, pending the court challenge by management consulting company Bain to its 10-year ban from doing business with the government imposed last year.

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