Pre-election “Plunder spree of note” – with Wayne Duvenage

There is a “plunder’s spree of note” by government officials to “make as much money as they can” before next year’s national elections. That is the charge from OUTA’s Wayne Duvenage who speaks to BizNews after a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report to Parliament has laid bare a “mind-blowing horror story” of looting that brought South African Airways (SAA) to its knees. Duvenage says, with Anti-Corruption Week coming up there has been a lot of rhetoric from President Cyril Ramaphosa. However, “it might be some of his lackeys and his cronies and his cabinet ministers or senior people in the political structures that are implicated and that might have to go to jail, which is why we think that there’s this reluctance to really get down to doing the hard yards here….He’s very weak, I’m afraid.” – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:09 – Introductions
  • 00:30 – Wayne Duvenage on the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report
  • 01:56 – Who were the main looters involved
  • 04:27- What is the amount identified by the SIU for recovery
  • 05:23 – Where are the main characters implicated in this looting – are they being held accountable
  • 08:21 – Despite the mountain of evidence, they might never see the inside of a courtroom or a jail cell
  • 10:06 – What action can we expect from parliament in reaction to that report
  • 11:48 – The weakness of President Cyril Ramaphosa
  • 13:51 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the Interview

There is a “plunder’s spree of note” by government officials to “make as much money as they can” before next year’s national elections.

That is the charge from OUTA’s Wayne Duvenage who speaks to BizNews after a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report to Parliament has laid bare a “mind-blowing horror story” of looting that brought South African Airways (SAA) to its knees.

“And right now, the amount of gazettes and comments required and requested from various departments for big changes to procurement and management of oil infrastructure in this country and trying to push karpowerships onto us and dealing with the NSFAS, the student’s finance aid schemes…the corruption and the absolute maladministration that’s going on. It’s all to make as much money as they can before the next elections. It’s a plunder’s spree of note, I can tell you right now, right from national down to local government, it is getting out of hand,” Duvenage says.

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“We are coming up to Anti-Corruption week. We’ve had corruption announcements recently and events where the president is speaking brazenly and boldly about the commitment to fighting corruption. Well, it’s all words. There’s no action. It’s a lot of rhetoric. But what we need to see is real action, and that is to resource these institutions properly so that we can get on with the job of holding the many looters of the state coffers to account. And I’m afraid for him, it might be some of his lackeys and his cronies and his cabinet ministers or senior people in the political structures that are implicated and that might have to go to jail, which is why we think that there’s this reluctance to really get down to doing the hard yards here….He’s very weak, I’m afraid.”

Duvenage says civil society has their work cut out for them to ensure that the coffers aren’t plundered. “They have been there, the minister of finance has told us that we are broke and that we’ve got to do things differently. Well, if we’re not going to tackle the gross maladministration that’s taking place with inept people that have got an intent to rob the bank here, then you know, we are going to have a very difficult time turning this country around. Every day of looting is a day that we go backwards in this country.”

As for what action can be expected from Parliament to the SIU report on the looting at SAA, Duvenage says: “Well, they can now really set a cut amongst the pigeons if they do their work properly, and they haven’t done their work. They looked away for so many years through two administrations under Zuma and largely this year, this last administration. They’ve not been holding the cabinet to account and the executive to account to the extent that they should. They should really be hauling everybody into Parliament, seeking the answers. And almost I believe Scopa and the various committees can be giving instructions to the Minister of Finance to make sure that these institutions are properly resourced to get on with the job of fighting corruption.”

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Duvenage stresses that there is “so much evidence here that could put these people away”, but that it doesn’t help to gather all this evidence “if we don’t see people inside the courts and in orange overalls”.

He says the problem is that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is under-capacitated, and doesn’t have the resources and the professionalism to do complex forensic audits in order to “make strong cases that advance quickly in court and not have these constant delays which eventually get thrown out of court”. 

“So I sincerely hope that we don’t lose these cases, or that these people are no longer allowed to walk the streets freely and spend their looted money in the way they are.”

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