At the end of 2017 Corruption Watch wrapped up a hectic year, with successes in various arenas, including courtrooms, communities and campaigns. To read more about the various kinds of work that we do, please visit our page.
We still continue our Sassa battle. In 2015 we applied to the North Gauteng High Court, citing irregularities in the decision to pay CPS the amount of R316-million and asking for a review of that decision. Sassa swiftly launched an opposing suit but withdrew it in May 2017 after wasting taxpayers’ money.
We appeared as amicus curiae in the Constitutional Court in March in the matter of Black Sash vs the minister of social development and others.
In September, with Black Sash and Equal Education, we filed a complaint with the Compliance Advisor / Ombudsman of the International Finance Corporation regarding the circumstances of the IFC’s investment of $107-million in Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc. and its subsidiary, Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd. Both companies are deeply implicated in widespread mismanagement of Sassa’s social grant system.
We also celebrated a successful application, with Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), asking the court to review and set aside the R17.3-million settlement agreement between former NDPP Adv Mxolisi Nxasana, the president, and the minister of justice. The court agreed with us and decided that the settlement agreement that led to the removal of Nxasana was indeed unlawful and that the termination of Nxasana’s appointment was invalid and set aside. It also set aside the appointment of the national director of public prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, and declared that post vacant. The respondents immediately indicated that they would appeal the matter.
We are still involved in the South African Revenue Service matter in which Commissioner Tom Moyane has been asked to explain the reasons for the apparent spurious investigation and subsequent reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa and Kelly-Ann Elskie, after the two were implicated in questionable financial transactions. A year ago we laid criminal charges against all three but to date have no progress to report.
We are also still involved in an application to have the findings of the Seriti Commission set aside, which was brought to the court in October 2016, but the process has not moved forward.
We appeared as amicus in several other cases besides Black Sash, including the EFF’s Constitutional Court application inquiring into Parliament’s failure to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable. The matter follows on the Nkandla judgment, delivered in 2016
In terms of policy and legislation work, we have contributed to the draft Political Party Funding Bill, Protected Disclosures Act amendment bill, and the Financial Intelligence Centre amendment bill.
We have called for investigations into the private sector corruption that surrounds corporations such as Steinhoff, Naspers, McKinsey and KPMG. While we do not have the resources to conduct the intensive investigation that such corruption warrants, we are fully supportive of the agencies who will be dealing with the matters.
On the campaign front, we launched a public awareness campaign calling for transparency and fairness in the appointment of the new national police commissioner and head of the Hawks. This was accompanied by an informative brochure. President Jacob Zuma suddenly and disappointingly announced the appointment of the police commissioner without any public consultation – but the new head of the Hawks has yet to be appointed.
We visited communities in Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape, and we consulted with mining-affected communities of Bakwena ba Mogopa in North West, to find out how severely maladministration of mining royalties affects them and whether they are at all involved in the community consultation process.
We launched a research report titled Mining for Sustainable Development, which looked at opportunities for corruption in the mining applications process – the start of the mining operations chain. We also launched a mid-year report titled Analysis of Corruption Trends, which analysed reports we received in the first six months of the year for patterns and trends.
We continued to carry out investigations into whistle-blower reports which we believe will have the greatest impact. One of them was the distressing matter of a young schoolgirl who was allegedly sexually abused by her school principal, and then let down on almost every level by the state systems that are supposed to protect and assist her.
Our last big event for the year was the launch on International Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December, of our hard-hitting video which explains in no uncertain terms how corruption affects every person, no matter where they come from or the social standing.