Corruption task team leaderless – Zille

FILE PICTURE: Helen Zille. Picture: Neil McCartney

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday that a list of “leaderless institutions” did not constitute a corruption-busting task team.

“While I appreciate the time taken by the presidency spokesman, Mac Maharaj, to dispute my latest newsletter on the demise of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT), it would have been useful if he had actually commented on what I wrote,” she said in a statement.

Zille said she wrote in her newsletter that the removal of both the chair and deputy chair of the ACTT through suspension and demotion was a deliberate ploy that had left the task team effectively dismantled.

“The presidency statement calls this “disappointing” and “misleading gossip”, but then does nothing to refute my claim,” she said.

Instead the presidency gave a page of bullet points that listed all the bodies ever set up by government to fight corruption.

“That would have been great, were it not for the fact that almost every institution or body listed is currently in complete disarray thanks to precisely the political meddling I was referring to.”

On Monday, writing in her newsletter SA Today, Zille said the “dismantling” of the anti-corruption task team was evidence the government was not serious about graft.

Zille said the task team was launched in 2010 to fast-track high priority corruption investigations.

“But the ease with which he pulled the plug on them in the space of just a few weeks, exposes [President] Jacob Zuma’s hypocrisy when it comes to tackling corruption.”

The team is made up of representatives of the Hawks, the SA Revenue Service (Sars), the Special Investigating Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the commercial branch of the SA Police Service.

It was headed by Hawks boss Anwa Dramat. His deputy was Sars anti-corruption unit head Clifford Collings.

Zille said there was effectively no team left since Dramat and Collings had become “victims of high-level purges”.

However, on Tuesday the president said the ACTT had visible successes and government looked up to it to work even harder to assist in rooting out corruption.

“It is disappointing that the premier [Zille] has decided to spread misleading information and gossip when she could have easily established the facts and imparted accurate information to the public,” the presidency said.

It said the inter-ministerial committee confirmed and concretised the role of the ACCT in June last year.

Government had a multi-agency approach on which comprehensive anti-corruption architecture, which was composed of a range of institutions to address corruption from different angles, said the presidency.

“This sets the direction towards ensuring that a resilient anti-corruption system is in place.”

The presidency said that a number of changes took place in 2014 and included the development of a number of strategies to address corruption, initiatives were launched and mechanisms established to expose corrupt practices in South Africa.

On Wednesday, Zille said Maharaj must have penned his statement in response to her newsletter “straight after his effort to spin” the “stepping down” of the SIU head, advocate Vas Soni.

“Citing the SIU as an example of corruption-busting excellence on the same day they became leaderless is a stretch, even for a seasoned spin doctor,” she said.

“So no, Mr Maharaj, none of these “proof points” are, in any way, chapters in the government’s anti-corruption “good story”. Instead they are a damning indictment of President Zuma’s calculated capture of state institutions in order to avoid investigation and prosecution.”

Zille said Maharaj should give examples of “significant, high-profile successes” that these bodies had achieved in recent years.

She said none of the institutions were fully operational.

“One by one they have fallen into the hands of the president, and now exist only to turn a blind eye to anything that says “Zuma” or “Nkandla” on the cover,” Zille claimed.

Maharaj could not be contacted for comment on Wednesday.

today in print

today in print