Cosatu cracks down on corruption
Johannesburg - Labour federation Cosatu is ready
to name and shame corrupt public officials and politicians through its new
watchdog agency, Corruption Watch.
In a first for South Africa, the labour organisation will reveal its
anti-corruption agency at this week’s four-day central committee meeting that
starts tomorrow in Midrand.
Corruption Watch will officially be launched in December.
City Press understands that the former chairperson of the Competition Tribunal,
David Lewis, was instrumental in the setting up of Corruption Watch and will be
involved in its operation. Lewis declined to confirm or deny his role on
Saturday, referring all queries to Vavi.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven also refused to be drawn on Lewis’ role,
only responding: “Where did you hear that?”
Corruption Watch will be launched on December 9 to coincide with International
Vavi said Corruption Watch, which will operate “at arm’s length from Cosatu”,
will be run by an independent board.
People serving on it would do so in their individual capacity.
“We don’t want to create a Cosatu pseudo-bulldog. We want a genuinely
independent institution to do the work.
“Cosatu members give us envelopes all the time about what they regard as fraud
and corruption. We want to build capacity to scratch beyond the surface when
we receive those envelopes. That’s the purpose of launching the Corruption
Watch,” he said.
According to a secretariat report Vavi will table before Cosatu’s central
committee meeting, Corruption Watch will:
» Act as a safe haven where whistle-blowers can report corruption;
» Investigate alleged corruption and hand over its dossiers of “prima facie
evidence” of corruption to the authorities;
» Initiate civil litigation against individuals and institutions implicated in
» Run advocacy campaigns to spread awareness about corruption and promote good
» Carry out research into corruption and establish relationships with similar
The institution, Vavi said, would also scrutinise reports by the
auditor-general and national treasury on suspended public servants.
Corruption Watch will push for faster action to be taken against suspended
officials so that they don’t remain on the state’s payroll for long periods.
“We want to look closely at how many of them are suspended for fraud – for
corruption and tender fraud, in particular. Surely society needs to know what
happens to them.
“That’s the type of work that Corruption Watch will expose. Once it gives us
the information, we can go to the streets and boardrooms and say: How dare you
keep a potential fraudster suspended for three years without any decisive
action on your part?” Vavi said.
Public sector corruption
City Press understands that Cosatu will use the fight against corruption as the
condition on which it will decide whether to support President Jacob Zuma in
his bid for a second term as ANC president at the party’s Mangaung conference
Although the federation was instrumental in lobbying for the closure of the
Scorpions, Cosatu – and Vavi, in particular – has been vocal on public sector corruption
in recent months.
Craven denied that Corruption Watch was meant to fill the vacuum left by the
scrapping of the Scorpions.
“Corruption existed when the Scorpions were there and continued afterwards,”
The federation has spoken out against the handling of corruption cases in:
» Mpumalanga, where whistleblowers have allegedly been assassinated;
» The Northern Cape, where ANC chairperson John Block is embroiled in a
corruption trial; and
» Limpopo, the home province of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, where
allegations of corruption have been levelled against the health and social
Vavi has also publicly crossed swords with the Gupta family, whose business
dealings he has criticised; Siphiwe Nyanda, Zuma’s parliamentary adviser and
former communications minister; and Cooperative Governance and Traditional
Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka, against whom allegations of corruption have
Vavi’s secretariat report denies that the push against corruption is aimed at
political opponents, saying “the fight against corruption has to target
culprits regardless of their political affiliations or ideologies”.