How corruption kills – Jack Bloom on almost 30 years of looting in Gauteng

The Gauteng government has been rocked by corruption scandal after corruption scandal for nearly three decades. Veteran Democratic Alliance (DA) politician Jack Bloom, who has served in the Gauteng government since 1994, has witnessed it first hand. He gives BizNews the details of case after case in a province where three of the “Top Seven” in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) came up through the ranks. He describes how some corrupt officials simply got re-elected while others have never been held accountable because of never-ending investigations. “It’s quite clear there’s an utter lack of shame and utter lack of accountability…And I’d like to see some justice and accountability finally. These cases need to come to court, you know, and people need to be found guilty.” – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:10 – Introductions
  • 00:23 – Jack Bloom on how long he has served in the Gauteng government
  • 01:24 – On when he first started to notice the corruption
  • 03:19 – The worst cases he can recall
  • 14:53 – How many of the top seven came through Gauteng
  • 17:47 – What happened to Covid funds
  • 26:32 – What state has the corruption left the province in
  • 30:10 – Conclusion

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Highlights from the interview

The Gauteng government has been rocked by corruption scandal after corruption scandal for nearly three decades.

Veteran Democratic Alliance (DA) politician Jack Bloom, who has served in the Gauteng government since 1994, has witnessed it first hand.

He gives BizNews the details of case after case in a province where three of the “Top Seven” in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) came up through the ranks.

“There were high expectations. (Nelson) Mandela was our first president, and we actually had a government of provincial unity. It wasn’t just a government of national unity…So I think it started off well, but I have to say it’s been a very mixed picture since then…it just got progressively worse…basically every department became affected.

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“But at the end of the day, with the massive budget that this provincial government has, scandal after scandal everywhere you look.”

Bloom is “most familiar” with the Gauteng Health Department where it’s been “one tragic story after another”.

One of the many examples of corruption detailed by Bloom, involved an acting chief financial officer who had been seconded by a private company. “Can you just imagine a private company that did business with the department, and they were handing out contracts themselves. I mean, I’ve seen this pattern in other departments. They have what they call a project management unit, and they give a contract to the so-called project management unit, and they start dishing out contracts to themselves.”

Blooms also gives examples of “another category” of corruption. “It’s not just money that gets stolen. There’s, I think, something, you know, moral corruption.”

In one such case at least 144 people died after more than a thousand mental health patients were transferred to “these fishy NGOs” that turned out not licensed at all and completely incapable of looking after mental health patients.

Yet another case detailed by Bloom, “is a very clear-cut example where people just saw, well, we can make money out of this, not to mind the patients who are dying and the very real need”.

Bloom describes how not even COVID funds were safe from the clutches of the greedy. 

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“Well, to me, that was like a stress test. Here was a public health emergency, and people were dying, and we had lockdowns, and emergency funds were made available, a lot of emergency funds. In fact, the Gauteng Health Department got just under two billion rands. So you’d think, spend it properly, save lives, you know, whatever you do, don’t waste money. And then the vultures were there… . 

“And it seemed to me, particularly in the Gauteng Health Department, there’s pre-existing networks; they’re already there…contracts were just handed out willy-nilly to all sorts of fishy companies…They didn’t deliver and as a result we had a critical shortage of face masks and cleaning materials…”

In addition to monies looted, Bloom estimates that 20 to 30% of the budget is “just mismanaged”.

He tells BizNews how some corrupt officials simply got re-elected while others have never been held accountable because of never-ending investigations.

“…We have elections coming up next year, and I think voters need to consider this very carefully. We’ve been ruled by the ANC since 1994. I think the scandals just got worse and worse. It’s quite clear there’s an utter lack of shame and utter lack of accountability. 

“…I don’t give the benefit of the doubt anymore: If it looks fishy, it is fishy. Probe deeper…And I’d like to see some justice and accountability finally. These cases need to come to court, you know, and people need to be found guilty.”

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