Secret funders can’t pull the strings

2014-10-12 15:00

The offer by an unknown group of individuals calling themselves the “public members’ unit team” to pay whatever share President Jacob Zuma owes for the costly Nkandlagate debacle is not something that should be encouraged.

The group, headed by Durbanite Vumelani Mchunu, wants to raise funds to pay back the money eventually attributed to President Zuma in a bid to end the embarrassing public controversy surrounding the R246?million security upgrade to his Nxamalala home. Mchunu has already refused to talk about who is involved in the grouping and who pulls the strings behind the scenes, but had indicated the group will go around raising funds to settle any account Zuma receives.

In our view, financial relationships between the president – or any other elected official for that matter – and members of the public, in particular groupings that are not willing to disclose their membership and their own funding, are the root cause of many of our existing problems in terms of corruption.

There are too many unanswered questions about the group and its offer, including what the business interests are of those involved and those from whom they will receive funding, to allow them to make such payments.

There are vast sums of money involved, and there is no way to ensure disclosure of which individuals or companies are involved in paying the money on the president’s behalf, and what their interests are both now and in the longer term.

Even if the offer is made out of love for the head of state with no intention to secure payback in the future, the potential for undue influence to be exerted is far too strong.

There are already far too many unresolved issues surrounding the matter to allow payments to be made on the president’s behalf. To do so would simply add further layers of secrecy, controversy and patronage to an already messy situation.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

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