For­mer DGs seek Gupta probe

CityPress - - Front Page - RAPULE TA­BANE rapule.ta­bane@city­press.co.za

A pow­er­ful group of for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral (DGs) have writ­ten to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and Pub­lic Ser­vice and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Min­is­ter Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi, ask­ing them to in­sti­tute a pub­lic in­quiry into how se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cials con­tra­vened laws to ben­e­fit the Gupta fam­ily.

Their let­ter to the two min­is­ters – which has also been copied to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa – refers to “cor­rupt prac­tices ... [that] have been brought to our at­ten­tion that are tan­ta­mount to break­ing laws”.

The list of 45 for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral – whose names in­clude Themba Maseko, Barry Gilder, Mpumi Mpofu, Ketso Gord­han, Thozi Gwanya, Itume­leng Mos­ala, Roger Jar­dine, Siphiwe Nyanda, Alis­tair Ruiters, Ayanda Nt­saluba, Mo Shaik and Sipho Pityana – say theirs is not a party po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion, but a principled one aimed only at pro­mot­ing good gover­nance.

Be­sides hav­ing served long tenures in govern­ment, most of them are vet­eran ANC ac­tivists and are ac­tive in party struc­tures.

Maseko told the Sun­day Times in March that he was ap­proached by the Gup­tas, who asked that he chan­nel govern­ment ad­ver­tis­ing to their news­pa­per. Maseko said that the pres­i­dent had in­structed him to meet the fam­ily.

The for­mer of­fi­cials are hop­ing that an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment can be created in which cur­rent di­rec­tors-gen­eral, as well as se­nior civil ser­vants and even min­is­ters, can open up about how they were strong-armed into break­ing laws and codes of con­duct by their su­pe­ri­ors and out­siders, in­clud­ing the Gup­tas.

“There are many who are will­ing to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences, but are afraid. They want a space in which they are pro­tected,” said one of the group’s mem­bers.

The SA Com­mu­nist Party has called for a ju­di­cial in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture by the Gup­tas.

On Fri­day night, dur­ing an ad­dress at the Gaut­eng ANC’s pro­vin­cial gen­eral coun­cil, Zuma ridiculed those who com­plain about state cap­ture.

“We talk about state cap­ture; you don’t un­der­stand. Is the ju­di­ciary cap­tured? ... Is Par­lia­ment cap­tured? There are three arms to the state: ex­ec­u­tive, ju­di­ciary and leg­is­la­ture,” he said.

“If you say the state is cap­tured, are all these three cap­tured? You don’t un­der­stand. You are merely us­ing phrases. You are us­ing what peo­ple call – if they want to say things to the me­dia – sound bites.

“With­out mean­ing state, it is mean­ing­less to say state cap­ture. You do not un­der­stand. You can­not play around with state cap­ture.”

In the let­ter sent to Gord­han and Ra­matl­hodi on April 22, the for­mer di­rec­tors­gen­eral wrote that they were con­cerned about de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try which un­der­mine con­fi­dence in state in­sti­tu­tions.

“As for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral, we are con­cerned about re­ports that pub­lic of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing heads of state-owned en­ti­ties, are be­ing pres­surised by pri­vate in­ter­ests to wil­fully break pro­cure­ment rules.

“In par­tic­u­lar, we ex­press con­cern at re­cent rev­e­la­tions of al­leged state cap­ture by the Gupta fam­ily, their ap­par­ent in­flu­ence over po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive ap­point­ments, and their al­leged in­volve­ment in the ir­reg­u­lar fa­cil­i­ta­tion, se­cur­ing and is­su­ing of govern­ment tenders and con­tracts.”

They added in the let­ter that these de­vel­op­ments could un­der­mine the state and its abil­ity to ac­cel­er­ate ser­vice de­liv­ery, and breed a cul­ture of cor­rup­tion.

They warned that if some­thing was not done, the coun­try might be plunged into a crises of gover­nance that could lead to the col­lapse of the pub­lic ser­vice.

The 45 for­mer of­fi­cials also called for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry, in terms of the Pro­mo­tion of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Jus­tice Act, that would in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, the Au­di­torGen­eral, the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, and re­tired judges and ex­perts on in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial flows.

The in­quiry would in­ves­ti­gate all se­nior po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cials who might, in deal­ing with the Gup­tas, have con­tra­vened the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act.

They also called upon Na­tional Trea­sury to start an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pos­si­ble in­volve­ment of the Gup­tas and as­so­ci­ated com­pa­nies in il­licit fi­nan­cial flows out of the coun­try, and rec­om­mended that in­de­pen­dent re­searchers be ap­pointed to help.

Jar­dine, the for­mer di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the de­part­ment of arts, cul­ture, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, told City Press that as for­mer high­rank­ing of­fi­cials, they had re­flected on where the coun­try is and how they could play a role.

“We have come to the con­clu­sion that, given our ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic ser­vice, we can play a con­struc­tive role. This is not a party po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tive. It is squarely about how we strengthen the pub­lic ser­vice and our in­sti­tu­tions,” he said.

“Re­cently, we saw how strong in­sti­tu­tions are im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tions in a coun­try’s sov­er­eign credit rat­ing.”

Jar­dine said the “in­ten­sity” of al­le­ga­tions of civil ser­vants be­ing asked to flout the fi­nance man­age­ment act war­ranted that the al­le­ga­tions be tested. “We call on the pub­lic ser­vice to sup­port this and do the right thing to pre­serve their in­tegrity,” he said.

Asked why they were not mak­ing sub­mis­sions in a sim­i­lar process un­der­taken by ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, Jar­dine said: “As for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral, we are mind­ful of not falling into a sit­u­a­tion where we con­flate party and state.”

Ra­matl­hodi’s spokesper­son, Ad­vo­cate Mahlodi Muofhe, con­firmed re­ceipt of the let­ter, but said they were not sure about its le­gal stand­ing, as it was not on the let­ter­head of any or­gan­i­sa­tion. He added that the let­ter lacked “factual specifics”.

“While we ap­pre­ci­ate their con­cern, we say that our for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral should know by now that ... Man­tashe had a made a clar­ion call to all those who al­lege state cap­ture to come and make proper sub­mis­sions. This is the process we be­lieve the for­mer di­rec­tors­gen­eral should em­brace.”

Gord­han’s spokesper­son, Phumza Ma­canda, ac­knowl­edged re­ceipt of the let­ter, say­ing that they had noted the con­cerns.

Jar­dine re­signed from the arts and cul­ture de­part­ment af­ter al­le­ga­tions that the then min­is­ter, Lionel Mt­shali, was try­ing to use it to ad­vance his Inkatha Free­dom Party’s po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests. He said the for­mer di­rec­tors-gen­eral were not ex­pect­ing any neg­a­tive re­sponses.

As for­mer DGs, we are con­cerned about re­ports that pub­lic of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing heads of state-owned en­ti­ties, are be­ing pres­surised by pri­vate in­ter­ests

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