AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Civil society organisations call for removal of MPs implicated in State Capture
Civic organisations including Unite Behind, Defend Our Democracy and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation are seeking alternative ways of demanding accountability for State Capture.
“The most critical thing that we will do now is that we will lay complaints before Parliament’s ethics committee,” Unite Behind’s Zackie Achmat told a media briefing on Thursday.
“We will also be handing over an affidavit to the ethics committee asking for the removal of Sfiso Buthelezi as the chair of Prasa … [He is] probably the most corrupt MP in that Parliament.”
Achmat said Buthelezi must repay the R120-million that went to companies associated with him.
He said they would hold former transport minister Joe Maswanganyi accountable.
“We will also bring action against Fikile Mbalula because he wasn’t clean despite being a self-styled Mr Fix It. Mbalula appointed an administrator who was his friend and gave him a very generous handshake when he had to axe him.
“We are asking all of you to sign the petition to remove these people from Parliament. We would like to appeal to everyone in this room to sign the petition, which we will circulate, or to give an affidavit in your own name.”
In addition, he said: “We will make this one appeal to NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] head Shamila Batohi and Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya. The appeal is to do the right thing and not let us go to court. Let us join the cases as an interested party when they are prosecuted.
“We will also ask the courts to follow the recommendations of the Zondo Commission and that an investigation team be appointed to deal with corruption at Prasa.”
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Unite Behind disclosed that it had taken Prasa to court six times.
At the heart of this is a multibillion-rand contract awarded by Prasa to the company Siyangena.
Siyangena is appealing against a judgment by the Pretoria High Court in October 2020, which set aside contracts signed between Prasa and Siyangena for work done at Prasa train stations. The appeal will be heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday, 26 August.
Martha Ngoye, a whistle-blower and former head of legal services at Prasa, expressed profound disappointment at the neglect of whistle-blowers.
“The President has spoken about protecting whistle-blowers, but what has he done? He has done absolutely nothing about it,” she said.
Ngoye said that people were mocking the work of whistle-blowers.
Ngoye said the trouble started in 2009 when two train stations were to be built for the Confederations Cup tournament, and a tender process was followed.
“Immediately after that, there was an extension to seven stations. There was no tender process at all at Prasa in relation to the seven stations.”
Achmat disclosed: “When the first few stations were done, it cost R6-million per station. When the second number of stations were done by Siyangena, the price went up to R12-million per station, and when Phase 2 was agreed upon, the price went up to R32-million per station. The contractor was meant to instal CCTV cameras and other security measures such as access gates.”
Ngoye said that she asked her seniors at Prasa to sign an affidavit that would halt the dodgy Siyangena contract, which had been flagged by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. However, she failed to persuade her seniors to sign.
“I deposed to the affidavit of Siyangena, but I did not realise that I was making myself enemy number one,” she said.
Ngoye said even some of the Hawks investigators on the Siyangena case became frustrated with the instructions that they were given. “We had a number of investigators removed from the investigations and new ones were put in place,” she said.
She said a police general accused her and a colleague of delaying the investigation. She said this was despite the fact that they had approached the Hawks countless times with a wealth of information.
She said the effect of the corruption saga at Prasa on poor people needed to be addressed.
Ngoye said she was scared that she might suffer the same fate as whistle-blower Babita Deokaran, who was murdered soon after she flagged dodgy contracts at the Gauteng Department of Health.
Saftu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told the media briefing that the collapse of Prasa had cost workers dearly. He said the absence of trains meant workers were spending 36% of their income on unreliable and unsafe taxis.
“There is no doubt that this case [in the Supreme Court of Appeal] tomorrow has profound implications on the lives of the poor in our society,” Vavi said. DM