4 April 2019

Statement by Patricia de Lille, leader of GOOD

VBS-STYLE CORRUPTION EXPOSED IN THE SOUTHERN CAPE

DA-run municipality shields implicated councillor and son

TWENTY years ago I exposed evidence of corruption in the Arms Deal that implicated senior ANC members in irregular payments. The ruling party closed ranks in a bid to cover up the facts, but the courts convicted some of its senior members. Former President Jacob Zuma, of course, has yet to have the opportunity to defend himself in court.

The reason I was able to expose the Arms Deal payments was because GOOD South Africans were brave enough to break ranks with their political masters for the benefit of all South Africans.

Twenty years later, corruption has become a national disease that has infected all levels of the State, from municipalities to provincial and national departments, and state-owned companies.

My fight against the scourge continues. This week, I was once again approached by ethical members of a government administration who are concerned about corrupt politicians in their midst.

South Africans are sick and tired of hearing about politicians and their family members soliciting “facilitation fees” – also known as backhander payments or kickbacks – for their personal or party benefit.

Among many sickening examples of this political truancy has been the soliciting of kickbacks for investing government and/or pensioners’ funds with particular financial institutions, such as occurred at VBS.

It has emerged that a similar investment and kickback scheme has been operating in the DA-led George Municipality, in the Western Cape.

Evidence of the scheme has been repeatedly reported to the provincial government which has failed to act against its members.

The evidence, including a forensic investigation led by an independent firm of attorneys, points to the irregular transfers of hundreds of millions of Rands since 2017 by the George Municipality to Old Mutual.

Linked to those transfers are handling fees paid to the son of the DA Councillor D L Cronje who is responsible for the municipality’s finances. Kickbacks evidently amounted to almost R400,000 in the first six months of the project, alone.

The investigative report states: “In this regard we refer specifically to Regulation 8 (of the Municipal Finance Management Act), which clearly states that no fee, commission or any other reward may be paid to a councillor or a director or official of a municipality or to a spouse or close family member of such councillor, director or official in respect of any investment made or referred by a municipality or municipal entity.”

The report concludes, (1) that George’s Chief Financial Officer abused his position, (2) that the documentation “seems to indicate that the son of a George Municipal Councillor gained financially” from the scheme, and (3) there were efforts to cover-up the Councillor’s conflict of interest through re-drafting agreements.

The report recommends internal action to hold the Councillor and CFO accountable, and that the matter is referred to applicable law-enforcement agencies for further investigation.

Instead of following the report’s recommendations, George councillors instructed the Municipal Manager not to investigate the implicated councillor. The DA-led Council, including the implicated councillor, resolved that action should be taken against the Municipal Manager – the man who attempted to stop the corrupt payments and commissioned the investigation.

Similarities to the investments by Limpopo municipalities in VBS are the infection of municipalities by corrupt political networks, and investments of the people’s money, not on the basis of best return, but on the basis of kickbacks.

No person deserves a cut of taxpayers’ money because they or a family member is in government. Corruption reduces governments’ ability to deliver services.

GOOD has handed a dossier of information to the Office of the Public Protector and undertaken to deliver any further evidence that may emerge.

The ANC, EFF and DA must stop protecting corrupt politicians. The wheels of justice must be allowed to turn, so that the corrupt can be sent to prison, not parliament.

South Africans deserves better.

Good