A list of leaderless institutions is not a corruption-busting task team, Mr Maharaj
28 January 2015
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.
In my newsletter I stated that the removal of both the Chair and Deputy Chair of the ACTT through suspension (Hawks head, Lt-General Dramat) and demotion (SARS anti-corruption head Clifford Collings) was a deliberate ploy that has left the task team effectively dismantled.
The Presidency statement calls this "disappointing" and "misleading gossip", but then does nothing to refute my claim. Instead, we are given a page of bullet points listing 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.
Mr Maharaj lists, amongst others, the Hawks, the SIU and the NPA as proof of the government's corruption-busting success. Surely Mr Maharaj has not missed the recent news reports concerning the purge of Lt-Gen Dramat and the subsequent overturning of his suspension in court. Or the ongoing efforts of President Zuma to sideline the NPA head, Mxolisi Nxasana.
Mr Maharaj must have penned his statement in response to my 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.
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.
Dramat and Collings were the engine of the ACTT. They gave direction to the body and made decisions to investigate without fear or favour. By having them removed, the ACTT has been rendered impotent. Just because they exist on paper, doesn't mean they do anything.
Perhaps, instead of simply listing every hobbled anti-graft institution he can think of, Mr Maharaj could give us examples of significant, high-profile successes that these bodies have achieved in recent years.
The reality is that none of these institutions are, in the words of Mr Maharaj, "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.
It is neither disappointing nor misleading of me to point this out. It is the DA's job, as opposition, to uncover, report and fight abuses of power by the state through any means at our disposal.
Statement issued by DA leader, Helen Zille, January 28 2015
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