Cape Town – Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday challenged academics and employees in large institutions to step up to the fight against state capture.
He was introducing the Eskom Inquiry Reference Book by Professor Anton Eberhard and Catrina Godinho of UCT’s Graduate School of Business, which he praised for explaining the scope of corruption. The book is a resource for parliament’s inquiry, which Gordhan is a part of.
Gordhan said academics should step up to the task of investigating state capture further to uncover the full scale of the corrupt activity in South Africa. He also called on individuals working in institutions to become whistle blowers if they have information that exposes state capture.
Explaining the importance of civil society and academia’s role in uncovering state capture, he said that about R250bn has disappeared from South Africa’s overall fiscal system in the last three years due to state capture.
Gordhan was referring to allegations that the Gupta family have conspired with President Jacob Zuma and his patronage network to score tenders at the country’s state owned entities.
The #GuptaLeaks published by various media houses have added a plethora of evidence to claims of state capture, but the National Prosecuting Authority has yet to charge the family or Zuma. “These institutions are a part of that state capture,” charged Gordhan.
“That money (from state capture) finds itself in various places… where you will find a bank account containing some of your tax payers’ money,” he said.
“South Africa does find itself at an important inflection point,” he said. “It can succumb to the wiliness of the schemes we collectively call state capture and the fantastic ability – because you’ve got to give credit where it’s due … to produce so many Houdini’s in one country.
“You’ve got people who appear to be repeatedly trapped and seen to be transparently filling your pockets, and yet nothing happens to you. I think that is an amazing feat – to have it happening in front of millions of South Africans.”
“It’s an amazing feat to see through these slights of hand and the way in which a well-connected syndicate as actually developed a system of capturing the state with the prime purpose of extracting from the state large sums of money.”
Gordhan said if South Africans don’t act, it could have dire consequences for the African National Congress, as well as for the future of South Africa.
“We are beginning to enter that (dismal) path that could take us five, 10, 15 years to recover from if we don’t handle some of these issues properly.”
Gordhan said the parliamentary inquiry saw some “unfortunate delays” due to the scheduling process and delays in what resources parliament could give the committee. “That issue was resolved in the last 10 days,” he said.
“Let us not condemn the inquiry,” he said. “Those in committee are committed to ensuring the inquiry works, but there are lots of challenges.”
Watch the full round table with Gordhan and Eberhard: