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The ANC’s labour al­liance part­ner Cosatu has drawn a line in the sand about Gov­ern­ment corruption. It’s in­sist­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma deals with graft in a more “con­sis­tent and bru­tal” man­ner if he wants the labour fed­er­a­tion’s sup­port to run for a sec­ond pres­i­den­tial term. Zuma has promised to deal with the “money sick­ness” grip­ping the ANC. But if he does much more than just tinker with a sys­tem where party, State and per­sonal in­ter­ests are so in­ti­mately linked, he’s likely to lose much more than just Cosatu’s po­lit­i­cal sup­port.

The Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s of­fice es­ti­mates that at least six of 10 pub­lic ser­vants hold pri­vate busi­ness in­ter­ests. Al­most 60% of na­tional Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment have shares in com­pa­nies and 45% hold di­rec­tor­ships in pri­vate com­pa­nies. When it comes to the Cabi­net, around 42% of Zuma’s se­nior Min­is­ters have out­side busi­ness in­ter­ests. And, un­til now, there have been no sanc­tions against min­is­ters who have pri­vate com­pa­nies that win State con­tracts.

The same goes for pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment politi­cians. On av­er­age, be­tween 33% and 50% of pro­vin­cial pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives (MPLs) have out­side busi­ness in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing di­rec­tor­ships.

The scope of all those in­ter­ests is tricky to track, be­cause sys­tems to en­sure politi­cians and se­nior of­fi­cials fully de­clare them is reg­u­larly shown to be in­ad­e­quate. Such in­ter­ests usu­ally also ex­tend to fam­ily mem­bers, which need not be de­clared. For ex­am­ple, Zuma’s own fam­ily has gained size­able busi­ness in­ter­ests since he be­came ANC pres­i­dent in 2007. That begs ob­vi­ous ques­tions about what role the Zuma name played in se­cur­ing those, which do busi­ness with the State and which deal­ings have crossed eth­i­cal, if not legal, lines?

“That’s the point. If you’re a min­is­ter you can’t al­low your wife, your brother or your cousin to do work with Gov­ern­ment. Even if there’s noth­ing un­to­ward in your busi­ness deal­ings with Gov­ern­ment, peo­ple will al­ways think you’re ben­e­fit­ing be­cause of your sur­name,” Cosatu sec­re­tary gen­eral Zwelinz­ima Vavi told

He adds: “If you want to be a pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tive you have got to choose be­tween that job

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