Corrupt Politicians Have Gotten Away with Impunity – but ActionSA Will Take Decisive Action to Restore the Rule of Law

Today, we are gathered at a crime scene. The Headquarters of the State Capture.

There is indeed no better place to announce ActionSA’s list of Top 10 ‘Most Wanted’ Prosecutions where – within 100 days after taking office following the 29 May elections – an ActionSA-led government will introduce processes in Parliament to ensure the quick and successful investigation and prosecution of implicated individuals.

It was at this very compound that the Gupta family conspired with our President to capture our state, controlling the apparatus of government, deciding on key state appointments, and ultimately, stealing an estimated R500 billion from the South African people.

It is a travesty of justice that six years since state capture came to a supposed end with the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa, not a single successful state capture prosecution has taken place.

Two years since Justice Raymond Zondo tabled the final State Capture Commission report, not a single person fingered in the report is behind bars.

The Gupta family, themselves, after spending nine years happily hollowing out the state, were able to escape prosecutions after the ruling party bungled their extradition processes.

Our justice system has been all but destroyed, leaving criminals to get away with impunity.

This is simply unacceptable.

This has to end.

Fellow South Africans,

Today, I am committing to you that an ActionSA government will act decisively to expedite investigations and give the National Prosecuting Authority the teeth it needs to put criminals behind bars.

Within the first 100 days after taking office, as President, I will immediately proclaim Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigations into, among others:

– President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala dollars cover-up;

– The VBS scandals where billions were stolen from our grandmothers and grandfathers;

– Deputy President, Paul Mashatile’s extensive network of benefactors who sponsor his luxurious lifestyle; and

– And the corrupt relationship between the state and consulting firms that have seen billions being siphoned off from state projects, like Kusile and Medupi to name just two.

We’d also take action to safeguard the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and ensure it is adequately capacitated to fight this cancer of corruption.

When serving as Johannesburg Executive Mayor, I appointed Major-General Shadrack Sibiya as Head of the City of Johannesburg’s first internal Anti-Corruption Unit, a unit that uncovered over R35 billion cases of fraud and corruption within three years.

Every time political parties reported cases of corruption against me, that unit carried out those investigations without any political interference.

The NPA must act without fear favour.

Working together with highly capable investigative bodies like a reinstated Scorpions, the NPA should be empowered to prosecute any political leader – including the President – if they have been found to have broken the law.

But, currently, the NPA is too heavily dependent on the Department of Justice for its funding, while the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) is appointed by the President.

ActionSA will ensure the NPA’s independence by significantly expanding its funding and allocating its budget directly from the Division of Revenue Act, instead of the Department of Justice.

We’d make sure the NDPP is free from political influence.

ActionSA will therefore ensure that the NDPP’s appointment process is led by a parliamentary committee that isn’t dominated by any majority party.

Similarly, we will similarly establish a separate oversight committee to oversee the work of the NPA, including its budget, to prevent a repeat of the decimation of the body seen during the Zuma era.

The composition of this parliamentary portfolio committee, like the appointment panel, will ensure that decisions aren’t steamrolled by a parliamentary majority in order to protect corrupt politicians.

Fellow South Africans,

Don’t trust the ruling party’s excuses; accountability in South Africa is possible.

The wheels of justice can, in fact, move quickly.

We can make sure the justice system works.

In this regard, ActionSA will establish specialised anti-corruption courts to expedite the prosecution of corruption cases and cultivate a culture of accountability.

We will introduce legislation to amend the Constitution to establish an independent Chapter 9 institution to combat corruption, alongside the return of the Scorpions specialised investigative unit.

We will increase the minimum sentence for anyone guilty of corruption in transactions exceeding R500,000 to 15 years imprisonment without the possibility of a fine or parole.

And, every single time someone goes to prison for serious crimes such as rape, murder, drug trafficking and corruption, they will pay back their debt to society by producing goods on farms or being engaged in public works programs.

Medical parole will also no longer be abused.

Under ActionSA, no person will be released on medical parole just to – like Schabir Shaik – make a ‘miraculous’ recovery and play on golf courses weeks later.

Former President, Jacob Zuma, was released on medical parole after only serving two months of his prison sentence, but today appears active on the campaign trail at events across the country.

How is that possible?

Under ActionSA, whistle-blowers such as Babita Deokaran – who are heroes in our society – will finally be protected.

ActionSA will ensue that legislation is updated to entrench the confidentiality of whistle-blowers, ensure that they are protected against retaliation, provide them with appropriate legal immunity and provide access to remedial action.

It is possible to reverse the breakdown of the rule of law which has taken place under the ruling party.

Fellow South Africans,

The list of Top 10 ‘Most Wanted’ Prosecutions we are presenting today is a list of high-profile individuals where a long list of evidence exists for them to be criminally prosecuted.

These are cases which are clearly ready to be prosecuted, but instead the South African people receive excuse after excuse for endless delays, while our criminal justice system is abused to prevent those implicated facing accountability.

With the mountain of evidence, it is simply unacceptable that these cases are not being speedily prosecuted.

Take the Lily Mine matter as an example: an inquest by the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court already found in October last year that the NPA should consider criminal prosecution against individuals – including the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy – for the death of three mine workers at Lily Mie in February 2016.

But, five months after the inquest, the NPA is yet to make to make a decision on possible prosecutions.

This is but just one example of how evidence exists for prosecutions to take place, but the NPA is slow to take any action.

Even after a court ruling determines that prosecution is necessary, it takes months before anyone is arrested.

Instead, we get delay after delay.

Let us be clear: An ActionSA government will never interfere in the NPA.

But, it is not political interference which has stopped these cases from being prosecuted, but political interference which has protected these individuals from accountability.

Justice Zondo himself said that implementation of the State Capture Commission report has been slow, likely due to a lack of political will.

It is a lack of political will which has seen the return of corruption-accused politicians such as Bheki Cele, Zizi Kodwa, and David Mahlobo on ruling party lists to be Members of Parliament.

It is a lack of political will that allowed Parks Tau to be promoted to Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Ramaphosa’s government, even after damming corruption allegations emerged.

During his time as MMC Finance in the City of Joburg, Tau allegedly conspired with Geoff Makhubo to award lucrative city contracts to Gupta-linked Regiments Capital, for which Makhubo’s company, Molelwane Consulting received a 10% kick-back. Tau’s wife also benefitted from the Regiments relationship.

And then during his tenure Mayor, the prime-positioned land above the Sandton Gautrain Station, valued at R280 million at the time, was gifted to a consortium led by Regiments Capital. No money was paid to the city. Parks Tau’s brother-in-law and a mysterious trust with ANC pedigree received R10-million for this deal.

I, myself, laid criminal charges against Tau in December 2018, but do you think police ever cared to investigate?

Furthermore, more than two weeks after National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, faced imminent arrest over possibly receiving bribes when she was Defence Minister, President Ramaphosa is yet to condemn her behaviour.

Instead, she gets away with being placed on special leave, thereby still enjoying parliamentary benefits.

This is why ActionSA will introduce a legislative amendment which will prohibit criminals who have been convicted of serious fraud or corruption charges to come to Parliament.

An ActionSA government will have the political will to act against corruption, even if it is not convenient.

As City of Johannesburg Mayor, I removed no less than four MMCs – including three from my own party – for poor performance, blocking corruption investigations or misconduct.

In government, ActionSA will act with the same level of decisiveness.

Fellow South Africans,

I now invite Team Fix South Africa Member for Justice and Constitutional Development, Advocate Julie Anne Lopes-Seton, to present ActionSA’s list of Top 10 ‘Most Wanted’ Prosecutions.

Had it not been for their untimely demise, individuals such as Bosasa’s Angelo Agrizzi and Gavin Watson, and Steinhoff’s Marcus Jooste could also have been included on this list. Grand corruption and fraud is not limited to politicians, but is enabled by a complicit private sector.

Advocate Seton, the podium is yours.