Leak­ing of Absa re­port may be sin­is­ter, says Madon­sela

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - TSHEGO LEPULE

FORMER pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela has said she can­not ex­clude the pos­si­bil­ity that the leak­ing of the Absa apartheid loot­ing re­port was for “ne­far­i­ous” rea­sons.

Madon­sela was speak­ing to the Cape Town Press Club yes­ter­day, where she ex­pressed her shock at the leak­ing of the draft re­port af­ter hav­ing promised dis­cre­tion to the af­fected par­ties.

Last week, the Mail & Guardian news­pa­per re­ported it was in pos­ses­sion of an elec­tronic ver­sion of the pre­lim­i­nary re­port fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into loot­ing of state cof­fers by the apartheid regime.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the re­me­dial ac­tions of the re­port signed by Madon­sela’s suc­ces­sor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane in­cluded Absa hav­ing to pay back R2.25 bil­lion for a fi­nan­cial bailout by the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

The re­port found that the then gov­ern­ment breached the con­sti­tu­tion by sup­ply­ing Bankorp, which was later bought by Absa, with bailouts back in the 1980s.

Bar­clays Africa, which owns Absa, the Reserve Bank, the Na­tional Trea­sury and the Pres­i­dency have been given un­til Fe­bru­ary 28 to make sub­mis­sions to the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s of­fice be­fore a fi­nal re­port is drafted.

The gov­er­nor of the Reserve Bank, Le­setja Kganyago, who is study­ing the re­port, has re­port­edly found some in­ac­cu­ra­cies in it.

Yes­ter­day, Madon­sela ex­plained how she took on in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter back in 2011 by her­self af­ter her of­fice first turned it down based on the fact that it was too out­dated.

“We needed to an­swer the ques­tion of whether the money was legally re­cov­er­able. We firstly had to look at the be­hav­iour of gov­ern­ment on re­ceiv­ing the Davis Re­port and say ‘was there wrong­do­ing in how those re­ports were dealt with’, and based on that, we ar­rived at the con­clu­sion I ar­rived at,” said Madon­sela.

She said she would not be com­ment­ing on whether the current re­port was al­tered but did say the re­port was all but fin­ished when she left and was only barred by an ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror from putting her sig­na­ture on it.

“I do have a view on that, but I choose not to com­ment on whether that re­port is the same as the one I left or whether or not both the con­clu­sions about who did any­thing wrong and the re­me­dial ac­tion are mine or not,” she said.

Madon­sela said that his­tor­i­cally, the leak­ing and some­times theft of re­ports had al­ways been for ne­far­i­ous rea­sons.

She said that dur­ing her ten­ure, cer­tain pro­vi­sions were put in place to guard against such in­ci­dents but she did not know whether Mkhwe­bane fol­lowed sim­i­lar guide­lines.

“The leak­ing of re­ports has al­ways been for ne­far­i­ous rea­sons, even dur­ing my time, and with this case we had promised Absa and the Reserve Bank to share the pro­vi­sional find­ings qui­etly be­fore mov­ing for­ward, not be­cause they would have changed it but be­cause we are deal­ing with the fi­nan­cial bank­ing sec­tor and the cen­tral bank.

“How it ended up with other par­ties or hav­ing elec­tronic re­ports… I don’t know how it hap­pened,” she said. “Will it be used for ne­far­i­ous pur­poses? That is pos­si­ble.”

Thuli Madon­sela

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