Editorials 2.9.2016 05:00 am

Unmask, punish state looters

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga (centre) poses with the Tshwane Speaker Katlego Matheba (front left) and Chief Whip Christian van den Heever (front right) alongside his other appointed Members of the Mayoral Council, 26 August 2016, at the Council Chambers in Centurion. Picture: Michel Bega

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga (centre) poses with the Tshwane Speaker Katlego Matheba (front left) and Chief Whip Christian van den Heever (front right) alongside his other appointed Members of the Mayoral Council, 26 August 2016, at the Council Chambers in Centurion. Picture: Michel Bega

It has become a disturbing norm to spend millions of rands of taxpayers’ money on uncovering abuse of public funds, but no effort is made to ensure those guilty face the consequences.

Government spends a fortune on corruption investigations, yet few culprits face the music for involvement in the theft of public resources. This contributes to the widespread culture of impunity. Newly appointed Tshwane executive mayor Solly Msimanga has to be commended for the energy and determination he has channelled towards exposing the massive graft of the previous administration of the capital city.

Msimanga’s announcement that he has uncovered corruption in Tshwane should not be a surprise, as graft has been the hallmark of one ANC administration after another.

In 2010, President Jacob Zuma authorised the Special Investigating Unit to look into allegations of financial mismanagement in Tshwane. The unit uncovered a long list of fraud, corruption, tender rigging, kickbacks, irregular appointments and other wrongdoing. Did anyone go to jail? Not a single city official.

A few weeks ago, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria prevented the Tshwane metro from making a nearly R1 billion payment to the company responsible for rolling out failed electricity smart meters in the city. Two years ago, the city lost millions of rands in a failed music bash, R10 million of which went towards US pop star Nicki Minaj’s nonrefundable appearance fee. These are just a few examples highlighting gross negligence and abuse of scarce public resources by greedy or just plain unthinking officials.

While Msimanga must be encouraged to continue unmasking looters masquerading as public servants, it’s disheartening that those implicated will probably not be held accountable.

It has become a disturbing norm to spend millions of rands of taxpayers’ money on uncovering abuse of public funds, but no effort is made to ensure those guilty face the consequences.

On the contrary, many corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and politically connected, unscrupulous businesspeople are protected. In the rare instances where someone is found guilty, they are often transferred to other municipalities or departments. There’s no hope of defeating corruption while recycling it.

 

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