Tag Archive | Hawks

Madonsela: state capture and corruption…

says, Zuma involved in state capture.. 

editorial.. To those who know, the silence after a bomb goes off is quite uncanny. Like the state capture bomb. Even birdsongthuli-madonsela-2 ceases and the world seems to halt for a few seconds.  Then as things start up again, people seem to gabble. Everybody is rushing about. Life starts up but the noise seems incredible, if you can hear at all that is.   Following this comes the sickening realization that there might be a second bomb.   One seems helpless.

So it was when the Public Protector’s Report on State Capture was released.   Most had the feeling that to see in writing upon the frontispiece the words “state capture” was quite surreal.   Up until then it was rumour; an “alleged” idea; something that was always “strongly denied”; certainly, shady but in any case, difficult to prove… but it certainly shouldn’t happen in our backyard anyway.

Truth must out

thuli-encaThen the bombshell report was released.  The world seemed to halt in silence whilst its 355 pages were digested. Then came the voices, mostly loud and some quite vociferous.  Some demanded more proof; some demanded immediate retribution. Many asked for the President to step down, following which was a festival of interviews on e-NCA.    Meanwhile, in Parliament the corridors went quiet.   Like a phoney war.

Rewind

Whether there is a second bomb in the form of the Hawks and the NPA again charging Minister Pravin Gordhan is purely conjecture at this stage.   It is part of a process that Parliament is not privy to.   Parliamentarians must just watch these parties go about their business, unfortunately at the expense of a jittery investment market.

What we do know is that all judicial and parliamentary processes are painfully slow and this iscropped-sa-parliament-2.jpg as it must be.   Witness the complaints if a Bill is rushed or “hammered” through Parliament.  It rarely works when carried out at speed and the process is exposed for its faults.

The law may be an ass at times and very laborious but it is there to fight corruption.  To eventually win a case against such a difficult-to-prove crime may take time but it is devastatingly successful when achieved.

However, the name Gupta is not responsible for everything.   Some of unpleasant exposures, especially in the energy field, are the result of massive incompetence rather than a temptation of financial gain.

Taking time

In ParlyReportSA, now with clients, we detail four painfully long processes which eventually will result in what may not be liked by some but have been correctly subjected to the slow but democratic procedure of Parliament – the MPRDA Bill; the investigation into the tina-joemattIkwhezi R14.5bn loss; the sale of South Africa’s strategic oil reserves; and how the mini-budget of Minister Pravin Gordhan has evaded the claws of state capture.

Our constitutional, and therefore our parliamentary system which is integrated into it, is subject to a clause which states that the president of the country is the person who is elected as the president of the ruling party’s National Executive.    This outcome only changes if that person is found guilty of breaking the law or his and her oath of office. For this outcome to be proven can take much time.

Patience a virtue

Gratifyingly also, amongst many outstanding court procedures underway, the arduous parliamentary and legislative process to ensure a recalcitrant President gets around to signing the FICA Bill, is underway.

His signature is needed in order that the countrzuma1y can meet international banking obligations and comply with money-laundering disclosure requirements. The fact that the President has not signed it, as was put before him by Parliament and has provided no reason for the apparent lack of inertia to do so, speaks volumes.  Probably a case for personal privacy will be tabled by his defence team, if he gets to need one.

Delaying tactics

Either the President in this instance will waste taxpayer’s money with a long drawn out case or be advised to withdraw, as has been his practice up until now, by acceding at the last minute and will have signed or be told to.

zwaneHe and his associates know that this Bill is a critical tool in the fight against illegal transfers of funds by “prominent persons”.  Minister Zwane’s fight with the banking sector is an unnecessary sideshow connected to this process. More becomes evident in the media , day by day, of this gentleman’s shady dealings.

Dark forces

Another fight calling for patience and now being unearthed is the level of corruption within intelligence services, Hawks and the NPA.  Hopefully, this is not as deep as the relationship that Robert Mugabe had with Nicolae Ceaușescu of Hungary, based on which he built his CIO and followed the advice gained from his training with Nangking Military Academy.

hawks logoHopefully also, with the NPA, Hawks and other major undercover government departments, only such matters as  graft involving as rhino trade and state capture bribes are the tools of trade involved and the aim remains simply self-enrichment.

Hope springs

The “goodies” in South Africa have much to undertake in order to beat the “baddies”, not helped by senior ANC officials not getting off the fence for fear of being demoted on the party list and losing their pensions.    All the same, there are so many good men and women speaking out at the moment from all spheres of political and business life,  the ANC in particular,  that “the force” would appear unstoppable.

Getting Parliament back into control and equal to the Cabinet will be a long process andparliament mandela statue calling for extreme patience, as manifested by our greatest President who demonstrated such incredible patience over many years in his long walk to freedom.

Previous articles on category subject

FIC Bill hold up goes to roots of corruption – ParlyReportSA

Parliament: National Assembly traffic jam – ParlyReportSA

Red tape worries with FIC Bill – ParlyReportSA

Anti-Corruption Unit overwhelmed – ParlyReportSA

 

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Anti Corruption Unit overwhelmed

Focus on top down elements of patronage 

….editorial….As Parliament went into short recess, the Anti-Corruptionhawks-2
Unit, the combined team made up of SARS, Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department, divulged that some 400 cases of public service corruption have been “successfully prosecuted since 2014”.

Out of hand

To have that number of public service thieves arrested is no small number but there is a worrying afterthought.   One wonders how many Anti Corruption Unit cases have been dropped or unsuccessfully prosecuted, given the fact such icebergcases are difficult to prove and there is often poor performance of by investigation teams. Like an iceberg, probably only one seventh of corruption in the public service is apparent.

sars logoCases currently under investigation in both the public and private sectors were given as 77, now 78 since Tom Moyane, head of SARS and member of the Anti Corruption Unit itself, at the time admitted to the Committee that he had not spoken to the Hawks about his second in command, Jonas Makwakwa.

Laundry list

The question by MPs was about the mysterious R1,2m deposited into Makwakwa’s private banking account.  According to reports it appears Moyane has subsequently rectified the situation and reported the event.  So yet another enquiry must start, which will only exacerbate the relationship problem between Moyane and the Minister of Finance, Gordhan Pravin.

Added to these national events in Parliament is the fact that corruption investigation remains particularly problematic at provincial and local government levels where it can go on undetected. The story emerging from the Tshwane Municipality is a case in point. The National Council of Provinces has no part to play in such matters.

Top down problem

Over the last few weeks, events in the parliamentary precinct have dominated the domestic media and consequently there is no need to repeat what is patently obvious.  South Africa clearly faces a leadership problem as far as financial governance and policy initiatives are concerned.

hawks logo
Doubt has placed, in the media in main, on the leadership integrity of the Hawks, NPA and, to some extent, with the Anti Corruption Unit inasmuch as their relationship with the President is concerned. A weary public waits for the next story of public service patronage.

Public service heads appear at times uncomfortable when they are reporting to Parliament and seem to be looking over their shoulder at times to see if what they have done or said is politically correct. Troubling is the fact that regulatory bodies are at odds with the ministries that founded them.

Bottomless pits

Although progress has been made on the national level in developing legalmoyane frameworks with provisions and regulations to address theft of public funds, such as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), the good guys are still behind in the race to catch the bad guys.   A sad conviction rate of 28% on cases brought before the court by the Assets Forfeiture Unit overall was quoted to the Standing Committee.

Poor leadership

On the same subject, the surprising failure by the President to sign into law the Financial Intelligence Centre Bill to fight money laundering in terms of international prudential agreements has represented a further setback. Hopefully this is only temporary since the country needs to join up the dots to encircle organised corrupt financial activity.

Worse, some government SOEs appear to conducting their own affairs without approval by Treasury. Cabinet members are involved. Witness the extraordinary offer made by the Central Energy Fund, reported in the media, to Chevron for its refinery in Cape Town and downstream activities in the form of 850 fuel outlets, presumably backed by the funds emanating from the sale of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) reserves unauthorised by Treasury.

Upstream mayhem

Tesliso MaqubelaDDG Tseliso Maqubela of Department of Energy has now told the media that SFF sold the 10 million barrels of crude in storage in December at rock bottom price of $28 a barrel to a unit of Glencore, Vitol and a company called Taleveras. The condition of the sale was apparently, Maqubela said, “that the oil (will) not be exported and so the government considered it remaining as part of its strategic reserve stockpile.”

Shadow Minister of Energy, Pieter Van Dalen MP, citing Business Day, said the sale has been connected with Thebe Investment Corporation – “the ANC linked investment arm”, he added.   Vitol is the company that has allegedly bought the fuel stock and which owns Burgan Cape Terminals next to Chevron, the deal being linked by Van Dalen with Thebe for the building of its new storage tanks. Burger had just been awarded a 20-year lease by Transnet for land needed.

cape-town-harbourChevron brought to Parliament its case against Burger saying it was improper to build a new tank terminal next to its refinery for Burger to store oil for trading whilst they had no Transnet pipeline to Gauteng as did others from Durban but the chair of the portfolio committee accused Chevron of monopolistic behaviour. Subsequently the complaint was rejected. It was shortly after that Chevron announced its intention to sell its refinery.

Twisting path

Whether the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson knew all of this when she appeared before the Portfolio Committee of Committee on Energy,tina-joematt her attendance covered in this report, is a moot point.   If she did know something, she is culpable in that she withheld the information, both from Parliament and possibly Treasury.

Alternatively, if she didn’t know that an offer was made to buy Chevron and that SFF had sold the state’s oil fund’s reserves to Swiss giant Vitol, possibly involving Thebe Investments, she should resign immediately as an incompetent.  Where the R4.4bn odd involved in the sale by SFF has landed up is not clear and when the oil will leave SFF’s Saldanha terminal and move to Burger in Cape Town is also not clear.

Clearly, in our view, this has been a major transaction known about at Cabinet level and the DA has called for an urgent enquiry. This will presumably bring the Asset Forfeitures Unit’s number of cases under investigation up to 79.   And so it goes on.  Tegeta and Eskom included.

Nothing but the truth

One senses a continuing cover up by government departments in reporting to Parliament for fear of upsetting any Minister’s apple cart, whereas Parliament should be a refuge of openness, accountability and public oversight on state activities and act as an arbiter to represent the people of South Africa.

vincent-smithIn the darkness, we saw a flash of light and a refreshing change when ANC MP, Vincent Smith, in grilling the Hawks as part of the Anti Corruption Unit interview, reminded them fiercely “This Is Parliament. If you cannot speak the truth, then do not speak at all.”  Whilst that remark may encapsulate the current problem, it may be also the cause of some Ministers and government officials choosing not to speak at all.

Legal jungles

Concurrent with the number of judicial enquiries into strange contracts, bad senior appointments, misuse of privileges and a litany of unaccountable expenditure without proper approval, what also has increased is the statement used by many when speaking to Parliament, including ministers, that the full facts cannot be given “because the matter is sub-judice”.

The number of matters that are sub-judice would not be so great if powers were given back the Treasury to re-assume its proper place in the parliamentary process.  Expenditure, if not approved by Treasury, would never see the light of day.

In conclusion

parliament 6Bad governance and corruption is the fodder that feeds the right wing anger sweeping the world and creates the spectacle that we see almost daily in our National Assembly, the creation of which institution is supposed to be one of the three pillars supporting the Constitution.

Previous articles on category subject

 Parliament, ConCourt and Business – ParlyReportSA

Parliament and the investment climate – ParlyReportSA

Anti-corruption law is watered down, say critics – ParlyReportSA

Nkandla vs NDP: the argument rages – ParlyReportSA

Parliament closes on sour note – ParlyReportSA

 

 

 

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AG suspects corruption in taxi recapitalisation

On corruption MPs ask for Hawks…

A number of  MPs, frustrated by hearing of corruption and by not knowing whom to believe, demanded that the SAP Priority Crimes unit and the Hawks be called in to investigate financial failures and mismanagement of the taxi recapitalisation programme.     The department of Transport (DoT) had been called before the portfolio committee to explain the qualifications contained in the AG’s annual report on the department’s financial performance.

The renewal without authority of the  e-NaTis vehicle registration contract, a further fact reported by the auditor general (AG) in the 2011/2 DOT departmental financials, also gave MPs considerable concern.

Indicative of the seriousness of the issue was the fact that the minister of transport, Ben Martins, himself previously a parliamentary chairperson, appeared before the portfolio committee of transport to give assurances that investigations would take place.

DoT denies claims

During the briefing, the deputy director general of transport, DoT, Mathabatha Mokonyama, maintained that the claims made by the auditor general were incorrect insofar as the scrapping payouts made by his department were concerned.

He maintained that despite the AG’s qualification that no supporting documents, or any form of accounting documents for any of the thousands of old taxis bought from their owners before scrapping could be accounted for, the claim by the AG was quite untrue despite the lack of documentation supplied.

He acknowledged that indeed R2.9bn, the amount under query, of the total of R7.7bn provided since the programme had started, had all been properly recorded but documents simply not provided with the reconciliations to the AG. The AG maintained that the only document that existed was a simple spread sheet of expenditure.

No backup documents ever came

The AG’s office, represented by deputy auditor general Kimi Makwetu, also stated that whatever the case no documents to support the disbursements had subsequently been supplied which were clearly asked for. As far her office was concerned, this meant unrecorded transactions had occurred and the department’s performance within DOT on this issue marked as “no information available”.

Minister of Transport Ben Martins promised his personal intervention in the matter and that investigations had already started within DOT.   During the course of the meeting it was noted that the consultants called were called in some years ago to manage the scrapping programme. The name was given as the Siyazi Consortium whom, it was stated, had been paid R640m to manage the scrapping programme.

Early ideals

In late 2006, the then minister of transport Jeff Radebe, now minister of justice, issued a statement saying, “I am therefore delighted to announce that for the first time in the history of the taxi recapitalisation programme, we will witness the real-time scrapping of old taxi vehicles.”

He said at the time, “ Our scrapping administration agency, Siyazi Consortium, is also far in advance in setting-up scrapping facilities in various provinces and has the target of ensuring that we recapitalise 85% of old taxi vehicles by 2010.”

e-NaTis also touched by fraud

Parliamentarians were also told by the AG at the meeting of the irregular extension of the e-NaTis vehicle registration programme, running currently at R1bn over its original contract value of R594m, without any formal tender process or regularity in terms of the public finance management act. Opposition MPs called for a police investigation.

The chief financial director, ministry of transport, confirmed during the meeting that neither the ministers of transport or finance were told of the extension by DOT officials but that national treasury had been informed.

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Hawks will report to minister says new police bill

The SA Police Service Amendment Bill has been passed by the National Assembly which will entrust the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – known colloquially as the Hawks – within the ambit of the police force and reporting to the minister of police. This is in line with the Constitutional Court’s finding in terms of the Glenister ruling.

During the debate in the National Assembly, the current police minister, Nathi Mathethwa, defended the changes wherein the final amendment as such was worked into the anchor legislation at the last minute, thus altering the Bill to reflect the fact that the Hawks would not report to the national police commissioner.

The Bill, now to go the president for signature, also states that the Hawks are empowered to decide on any matters to be investigated and which decision will prevail over any provincial commissioner.

The Democratic Alliance voted against the Bill, as did the FF+, with the ACDP and COPE siding with the ANC, the DA stating that the opportunity of having a truly independent investigative unit having been lost since politicians, to quote Dianne Kohler-Barnard of the DA, “were still able to fiddle about with it”.    The ACDP felt that as the law would be in line with the Glenister findings, this would be sufficient.

The predecessors of the Hawks were known as the Scorpions, who were disbanded at the wishes of the ANC as a result of a party decision made at the ANC’s pre-election conference at Polokwane.

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Anti-corruption law is watered down, say critics

The new South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Bill, dealing with the separation of powers between the state itself and the investigation unit known as the Hawks, has come under extreme criticism during parliamentary hearings.

The new bill. intended to replace the present SAPS Amendment Act that established the Hawks, otherwise known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, has come before the portfolio committee on police – with public parliamentary hearings currently completed.

Following the wipe out of the Scorpions corruption investigation team, for reasons better known to the ANC who insisted on its disbandment some years ago, the subject of whether the new legislation is sufficiently free of political influence was the core of many of the submissions made, this have being the keynote point of debate in Parliament when the previous Act was declared void.

The raison d’être for the substituted Bill is to overcome that same ruling by the Constitutional Court, which found that the Hawks were insufficiently protected from political influence or interference to meet the requirements of the independent agency’s own objectives.

The stated aim of the body is to be a free and unencumbered from political influence for investigating and countering corruption, the preamble says.

The Constitutional Court further ruled that the original legislation that created the Hawks did not comply with SA’s international obligations which accounts for the interest in this matter by overseas investor monitoring bodies. Parliament was given 18 months by the Constitutional Court to amend the Act and thus the matter has a timing to the substitution Bill for legislation to be enacted. September 2012 is in fact the date.

The issue of South Africa dropping from 54 in 2010 to 64 in 2011 out of 182 countries was mentioned in a number of submissions.

With stringent international and national legislation now in place in other countries, particularly those with investment wallets badly needed in South Africa, the debate which follows and which will involve business viewpoints, political party platforms and government implementation, particularly in the public service, which will be lively if not acrimonious at times.

The parliamentary police committee is now to consider for debate a summation of the public hearings, many of them highly critical of the proposals.

 

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