Council of Churches: SA on the brink of imminent collapse – ANC must act now

In an echo of our worst apartheid days, the South African Council of Churches has once again spoken out in the strongest possible terms – this time against State Capture and the syphoning off of State assets, saying the ruling cadre has abandoned the electorate. In its’ ‘Unburdening Panel’ report, sourced from key State players who have either been alienated from the Zuptoid cabal or targeted by it, the SACC says corruption has gone so far as to threaten SA’s constitutional democracy. Not content with merely voicing its’ strenuous objections, the SACC cited a list of corruption scandals against a backdrop of behaviours which it also outlined in detail. Significantly, the report launch at the Regina Mundi church in Soweto was attended by, among other key figures, Pravin Gordhan, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat and former cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko. In true Christian fashion, the SACC, which used lawyers to compile the report, is holding off until after both their and the ANC’s June conferences before outlining exactly what corrective action it expects. Again, exactly like the apartheid days, it says the government has lost all moral legitimacy. – Chris Bateman

By Ana Monteiro and Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) – A powerful elite centred around President Jacob Zuma has systematically syphoned off state assets, and corruption is so pervasive that it threatens South Africa’s constitutional democracy, according to testimony given to a panel established by the nation’s main church organisation.

“South Africa may just be a few inches from the throes of a mafia state from which there may be no return — a recipe for a failed state,” Malusi Mpumlwana, secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, said Thursday during the release of the findings of the Unburdening Panel in Johannesburg. “What we see at present is the government has lost moral legitimacy.”

ANC president Jacob Zuma looks on at the National Assembly in Cape Town in this file photo. REUTERS/Nic Bothma

Zuma has been implicated in a succession of scandals since he took power in May 2009, including a finding by the Constitutional Court that he violated his oath of office when he refused to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home. Last year, the nation’s ombudsman called for a judicial panel to probe allegations that Zuma allowed members of the Gupta family, who are in business with his son, to influence cabinet appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Those who made the allegations, which were denied by Zuma and the Guptas, included ex-deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and Vytjie Mentor, a former lawmaker for the ruling African National Congress. While the party established its own probe, only one person provided it with written evidence. The church council then established a panel to collate testimony from people who said they didn’t feel safe providing information to the ANC, Mpumlwana said.

Diverted Budgets

The people who testified revealed how government officials diverted budgets, rigged tender processes and tailored regulations to benefit a select few, and how a powerful elite was working to capture state-owned companies, weed out skilled professionals and gain control of their procurement processes, according to Mpumlwana. He declined to say how many people provided evidence, saying some still feared for their lives.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa and Phumla Williams, the acting head of the Government Communication and Information System, didn’t answer calls to their mobile phones.

The church council said it sent the findings to ANC officials and urged them to take appropriate action.

“They are responsible for that government,” Mpumlwana said. “They are the ones who can pull back that government if something is wrong. The problem is far greater than corruption, but organised chaos.”

Country risks collapsing from systematic syphoning of state assets – SACC

Soweto – The South African Council of Churches has warned that the country risks collapsing if the ANC does not act on the “systematic syphoning of state assets pivoted around President Jacob Zuma”.

“The country is going to collapse. It is difficult to rebuild once you go into lawlessness,” SACC secretary general Malusi Mpumlwana said.

SACC launched its “Unburdening Panel” report that put together damning allegations of corruption in various multi-billion rand tenders, including the R50bn Transnet locomotives, nuclear deal, Eskom’s coal contracts, and the partnership between VR Laser and Denel.

It was launched at the historic Regina Mundi church in Soweto.

SACC began compiling the report after the ANC’s failed probe into allegations of state capture.

It was triggered by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas’ allegations that the Gupta family had offered him R600m to take up the finance minister post, and Vytjie Mentor, who alleged that the family offered her the public enterprises post if she would drop the SAA flight route to India in 2016.

Mpumlwana said the “unburdened panel” offered a “safe space” for individuals who had been pressured to participate in corruption.

“It soon became apparent that there were discernible patterns of the systematic undermining of governance that go beyond petty corruption, so as to seriously threaten the constitutional democracy,” Mpumlwana said.

‘Power elite pivoted around president’

He said they had uncovered that the problem was far greater than mere corruption, but also the organised chaos and instability in government.

“A careful analysis makes the case for the following observable trends of inappropriate control of state systems through a power elite that is pivoted around the President of the Republic and is systematically syphoning the assets of the state,” Mpumlwana said.

He said this was done through:

– Securing control over state wealth, through the capture of state-owned companies, by chronically weakening their governance and operational structures;

– Securing control over the public service by weeding out skilled professionals;

– Securing access to rent-seeking opportunities by shaking down regulations to their advantage and to the disadvantage of South Africans;

– Securing control over the country’s fiscal sovereignty;

– Securing control over strategic procurement opportunities by intentionally weakening key technical institutions and formal executive processes;

– Securing a loyal intelligence and security apparatus; and

– Securing parallel governance and decision-making structures that undermine the executive.

However, when asked if Zuma was corrupt, Mpumlwana said the jury was still out but said the government had lost moral legitimacy.

‘Mend the ways of government’

He said they did not want to prescribe to the ANC what action to take, but said, as the governing party with power over the state, it should act fast.

“We urge the ANC, as the governing party, to examine itself and mend the ways of government, before we reach the point of no return – for this has implications for the ANC in government, for its leadership and members,” Mpumlwana said.

A protestor holds a banner suggesting the ANC is “For Sale” during a nationwide march against corruption in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Photographer: Halden Krog/Bloomberg

The launch was attended by scores of high-profile individuals, including former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, former cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko, and former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

The SACC said it would not be laying charges, despite using lawyers and researchers to compile the report.

Their next action would be determined by its conference in June.

The report would also be shared with member churches across the country, with a final decision on what action they expected to be taken during the SACC’s June conference.

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