The president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) Vuyo Zungula has said the deployment of South Africa’s ambassadors is used as a way of “hiding” corrupt individuals.
Zungula was on Monday giving the opening remarks during a virtual debate with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the topic whether corruption should be considered a crime against humanity hosted by the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA).
Zungula made a number of suggestions, including that all banks should be investigated for their role in enabling corruption across the continent.
He also said the parliamentary process to remove Mkhwebane was initiated because of her firm stance against corruption.
Zungula said it was important to view corruption as an international problem that is not limited to South Africa and question what the United Nations (UN) has said about corruption and whether South Africa was abiding by UN treaties if they were in existence, drawn up to deal with corruption.
He said it was obvious that corruption was a crime against humanity.
The debate, Zungula suggested, should also discuss the problems of extradition, listing French arms manufacturer Thales’ protracted delay to account in a South African court.
He said South Africa’s judiciary did not allow for swift prosecution of those people or companies who commit acts of corruption in the country and then leave.
Zungula said the judiciary, banks, multinational companies and politicians were all involved in corruption that was why it was important to look at the bigger picture and broader perspective.
He said banks were at the core of enabling corruption, with multinational companies using them to siphon money out of the African continent, which was why the role banks play in enabling corruption should be probed so they would be held accountable.
Due to a lack of political will, banks had gotten off scot-free for allegedly manipulating currencies, Zungula said.
He said the debate should also consider other acts of corruption such as diamonds extracted from the Congo and shipped out of the continent and similarly raw materials and closer to home, the raw materials taken from Kimberley, all of which is taken to European and other western countries.
Zungula said corruption was not being dealt with because it is enabled by a network made up, among others, of the judiciary and politicians who only provide lip service on addressing corruption.
The trade of illicit cigarettes and rhino horn were also acts of corruption, Zungula said, adding that illegal mining was also an act of corruption.
He was of the view that major mining companies are “heavily involved” in illegal mining so that they would avoid paying taxes and do not have to declare their proceeds.
When dealing with or addressing corruption, the focus was usually placed on individuals instead of cartels, Zungula said.
He said tax havens exist solely for corrupt purposes and are enabled by world superpowers, Zungula said, adding that Britain is happy with Bermuda being a tax haven because the country wants to siphon money from its former colonies to its island territory.
Zungula suggested that the debate should also provide solutions on how to deal with corruption and the role that young people could play in doing so.
He urged UNASA to lobby parliament to draw up legislation dedicated to dealing with corruption.
Zungula took issue with corruption always being labelled as a black problem in South Africa, citing the treatment of the VBS and Steinhoff scandals, the latter, he said, was “given fancy names” while the former scandal was called what it is, corruption.
During her address, Mkhwebane was in agreement with Zungula that corruption has no race.
Zungula said “comrades” and politicians who were found to be corrupt are deployed as ambassadors as a way of hiding them.
Those ambassadors included former MECs, ministers and premiers, Zungula said, however, he said he would not name names.
Zungula said the scorpions were disbanded because they were fighting corruption and that the move to remove Mkhwebane was initiated because she was probing acts of corruption.
Zungula said commissions of inquiries into acts of corruption as well as inter-ministerial task teams were a waste of time because there are existing institutions in South Africa such as the Hawks and the office of the public protector which are there to deal with corruption and should be supported.