President Jacob Zuma, hounded by 783 corruption charges and saved by the immunity conferred on him by his office, will do anything to stay out of jail. South Africa’s fate depends on how this existential nightmare is resolved. This country is always five minutes to midnight. Another minute is about to tick by. RICHARD POPLAK watches the clock.
With the words, “the new, alien and corrupt ANC, dear friends, is incapable of self-correcting”, Makhosi Khoza divorced her political party of 36 years due to some irreconcilable differences in a lone-wolf press conference. Twenty four hours after having resigned from the ANC and from her job as member of parliament so publicly, what are her political options? By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Various reports have emerged that the CEO of the Public Investment Corporation, the manager of the Government Employees Pension Fund, has been targeted for removal from his post. That has been denied but, like Pavlov’s Dog, we are conditioned to the same tedious rigmarole of removal/suspension of those in the way of President Jacob Zuma’s looting. It starts, as always, with the emergence of some “report” of malfeasance and the mechanics then play out with the same result at the end. The hurdle is removed and Zuma puts the Gupta-selected crony in his/her place. By DIRK DE VOS.
Parmed, the medical aid scheme for national and provincial law makers and judges, at its Friday board meeting ditched KPMG as its auditors. This is understood to be the first such move by an organisation related to the state, as the domino effect of reputational damage to the auditing company continues. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
A handshake and a beer could have resolved differences between SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane's bodyguard, Thabo Titi, and SARS legal specialist Vlok Symington, a Pretoria High Court judge has found. The court also found Symington's allegation that he had been held hostage in the SARS boardroom by the Hawks and Titi “melodramatic”. This opens the way for Symington to face disciplinary charges including insubordination and misconduct. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Perhaps the most mind-boggling of the ANC government’s unwritten rules is the one that states: “All apartheid-era political killers shall be let off the hook.” In among the documents that didn’t get presented as oral evidence during the re-opened Timol inquest in August 2017 was a showdown between a senior NPA advocate and a world-class police and investigations expert. Put it this way: it’s another big loss for truth. By KEVIN BLOOM.
On Thursday, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed Oakbay’s application to stop the Bank of Baroda closing the accounts of about 20 Gupta-owned companies. As things stand now, the Bank of Baroda is due to pull the plug on Gupta accounts at the end of September. The judgment may prove a significant nail in the coffin of the Guptas’ South African empire. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his former deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were locked in a meeting with KPMG International chair John Veihmeyer in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon. After emerging from the meeting in the evening, Gordhan and Jonas released a joint statement. By PAULI VAN WYK for SCORPIO.
Civil society organisations on Wednesday announced a People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime to be held in Johannesburg in November. The state’s not willing to act, but someone has to. Such tribunals have been successful before and this one could provide a record of evidence for future leaders to prosecute the corrupt. By GREG NICOLSON.
Sparks sits in his shack in an informal settlement in Kliptown smoking a pipe with his friends. Just above his head a tangle of wires snakes out of the shack in all directions, a veritable distribution board supplying power to hundreds of residents of one of Johannesburg’s oldest townships. His connections are illegal but it’s the only way residents here can access electricity. By BHEKI C SIMELANE.
Another week, another crisis. South African rugby seems to be swinging from one nadir to the next. And while New Zealand’s playing style is often seen as the benchmark for excellence, it is their approach to fostering inclusive structures that could really teach the suits a lesson or two. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
What do former Eskom board member Mark Pamensky, former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh, and at least four of the ousted KPMG partners have in common? At least two things, it turns out. First, they have all been implicated in some measure of wrongdoing as a result of the #GuptaLeaks saga (and in KPMG’s case, the handling of the SARS report, too). And second, they are all registered chartered accountants. If it’s possible to single out one professional designation as coming off the worst from this unholy mess, it might just be CA (SA). By REBECCA DAVIS.
By-elections held on 20 September saw the African National Congress (ANC) fall short in their bid to win a super marginal ward in Gamagara (Kathu area) in the Northern Cape from the Democratic Alliance (DA), while the ANC and DA had comfortable holds in two other wards. There was also a strong second place for a faded political party in the City of Cape Town by-election. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.
Three years after the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, the office of the Western Cape Premier said it was satisfied with the progress it was making in turning things around. But the activists who set the ball rolling are not so sure. They say the National Ministry of Police is not coming to the party, limiting the capacity of others to keep making improvements. The matter will be heard in the Equality Court in November. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Late on Wednesday, scientists at Wits University announced that they had possibly found a missing piece of the puzzle in how complex life evolved. But if South Africa is to continue putting itself on the map where fundamental science is concerned, we face significant funding hurdles. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
As the ANC’s elective conference in December gets closer and closer it appears, surprisingly, that some of the heat is leaving the party. That instead of the two factions getting more and more intense in their competition with each other, there is an easing of hostilities. This may be because it’s been a long year, and they’re saving up for the final sprint. But it may also be because the chance of some kind of compromise is in the works. Or that everyone in the party now realises that the major aim should be simply to keep the party going. Either way, the ANC may be preparing to muddle through rather than deal outright with the tensions plaguing it. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
The constitution of Zimbabwe recognises the rights of persons with disabilities but is limited as it states that government is mandated to act if resources permit, which the already cash-strapped and ailing Zimbabwe government can use in order not to honour its obligation to provide appropriate services for the disabled. By SALLY NYAKANYANGA.
In the Western Cape, child murders have dominated the news over the past few months. These brutal killings of defenceless children have understandably caused much outrage and civil society organisations have called for decisive action by the Western Cape Government, in particular for a commission of inquiry to stem the tide of these killings. However, is a commission of inquiry an appropriate response when we know enough about this problem to take action now? By SHANAAZ MATHEWS and LORNA MARTIN.
Senzo Mchunu has been a player in KwaZulu-Natal politics for over two decades. When he took to the stand at the Moerane Commission to testify about what he thinks are the reasons for the recent assassinations in the province, it was worth sitting up and listening. The ANC must accept responsibility for the killings, he said, recommending that dialogue would be the best way to deal with divisions and faction fights. Some were sceptical following a recent court judgment on the 2015 provincial conference. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
On Friday 15 September KPMG International made a dramatic admission that KPMG SA had fallen way short of governance standards, qualities and ethics in relation to work the global auditing giant had done for the Gupta family as well as in compiling a report for SARS into the “rogue unit”. This triggered an exodus of several senior leaders while new CEO, Nhlamulo Dlomu, stepped into the flaming cockpit of the jumbo. Can she crash-land safely? By MARIANNE THAMM.
A serious engineering study and report has dispelled the myths and propaganda peddled by fired former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and suspended Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko on the limits and costs of accommodating significant levels of variable renewable energy capacity in the South African power grid. By CHRIS YELLAND, investigative editor, EE Publishers.
The right of terminally ill individuals to end their life when, and how, they choose has been a battle fought before South Africa’s courts in recent years. An application launched at the South Gauteng High Court has now brought the issue into the spotlight once more. At the heart of the matter: a Johannesburg doctor and patient duo arguing for the right to undergo physician-assisted euthanasia lawfully. By REBECCA DAVIS.
This is number eight in the Open Secrets’ series, Declassified: Apartheid Profits. While researching the recently published book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. This treasure trove contains damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. OPEN SECRETS believes that it is vital to allow the public to scrutinise the primary evidence. Last week we revealed Armscor’s secret sanctions-busting office in Paris, and the long-running close relationship between the French and Apartheid military intelligence agencies. This week, we ask whether the investigations of these links by a brave activist provide the motive for her murder. Who killed Dulcie September, and why?
On Monday, tax boss Tom Moyane tried to wring the neck of the bird he once forced to sing. His carefully built house of cards had caved in on Friday when KPMG dramatically withdrew their report produced in the #SARSWars saga. Moyane retaliated, threatening KPMG with legal action, and absurdly claimed that the KPMG report stands in law because the tax man paid for the report, no matter what the authors say, or what the truth is. Desperate much? By PAULI VAN WYK.
One controversial chapter in the SA Police Service has been closed with the departure of former Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday announced the general was now “retired” following a failed bid in the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) to be allowed to appeal an earlier judgment that found his appointment unlawful and invalid. But Ntlemeza’s retirement comes with a financial penalty – he has to “personally pay” legal fees according to the court’s cost order and will get his police pension pegged at the lower rank held before his invalid promotion to Hawks head. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Tom Moyane’s fightback against KPMG for withdrawing parts of its report into the so-called rogue unit may yet drag two of Parliament’s committees into this divisive debacle. Both the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the finance committee would be asked “to investigate the immoral conduct of KPMG and determine the appropriate action”, said Moyane. But the watchdog on public spending, Scopa, said it would not tackle any one particular case, but rather the broader issue of private auditors working for the state, while the finance committee said it could not investigate. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
In one corner: a former public servant best known for being good at his job but ousted from it after turning down a R600-million bribe from the Guptas. In the other corner: a current public servant who faces allegations of nepotism, financial mismanagement, having misled Parliament and having leaked confidential Cabinet information to the Guptas. In some ways, the contrasting figures of Mcebisi Jonas and Faith Muthambi provide a metaphor for the battle for the soul of South Africa. On Monday, they shared a platform hosted by the union for government employees. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The Zuma presidency of the ANC and the state is in crisis and the state capture project is under pressure. The ANC December elective conference could well be postponed as the organisation lurches from crisis to crisis. Citizens mainly sit and watch. Part of the problems of accountability and abuse relate to passivity, that there has been little popular involvement in our political life. That needs to be rebuilt on an organised basis. But there is a broader unity that exists, standing against the abuses of the Zuma era, shared by the wealthy and the poor. There is a need to restore legality and also to ensure clean government. It will take time to remedy the problems we now face and it is important to recognise that solid foundations need to be built. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
The publication by journalist and broadcaster Redi Tlhabi of the life story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, or Khwezi as she became known, arrives as a full stop, perhaps even a tombstone, to the brutal and destructive decade-long Zuma presidency. Three years after Zuma was acquitted of raping Kuzwayo, he was sworn in as the country’s fourth democratic president. The edifice of the Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa has been deeply tarnished by Zuma. So too the reputations of global private sector companies that have aided and abetted the estimated plunder of R100-billion from the state with Zuma, his supporters and cronies at its helm. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Just after President Jacob Zuma attended the BRICS summit in China earlier this month, City Press reported that the China Communication Construction Company was gearing up to close South African state contracts worth R70-billion, with no public tender. But CCCC’s subsidiary Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, which sold port cranes to Transnet, was already embroiled in the corruption contagion spreading from Zuma’s administration and the #GuptaLeaks. Now we have found the crane manufacturer’s kickback agreement with a Gupta intermediary. By AMABHUNGANE and SCORPRIO.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC’s current leadership is set to fight for survival in a week that will see fierce lobbying and counter-lobbying to stay the effects of a court ruling last week that would see it disbanded. The “rebel” branches that brought the case are trying, on the other hand, to push for the leadership to be disabled as soon as is possible. Much of this will depend on a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, which is only starting on Friday. Prepare for another very long week in politics. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Prison violence, the disruptive behaviour of some inmates, high numbers of escapes in the 1990s and a public demand to be tough on crime led the South African government to replicate the American approach of dealing with very violent and dangerous offenders: building two super-maximum security prisons, at great cost to the taxpayer. The first one, C-Max, is located within Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria and is closed for renovations. The second one, Ebongweni (outside Kokstad in Kwa-Zulu Natal), is a stand-alone prison with a capacity to house 1,440 inmates, all in single cells. It started operating in 2002. A solution was needed to deal with our most violent offenders. But was the policy choice of these super-maximum prisons the most adequate one? By GWEN DEREYMAEKER.
With just around three months until the ANC’s December leadership conference, something appears to be shifting. Instead of a simple two-horse race between those who support Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his current boss President Jacob Zuma, a push for unity is gaining ground. This push, if successful, could have a massive impact, and may save the party, at least in the short term. But there are still important, difficult and possibly lasting obstacles, not the least of which is Zuma himself. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
KPMG’s written apology to South Africa, if one can call it an apology, purports to be decisive. Their local CEO Trevor Hoole resigns along with seven executives in KPMG’s audit, risk and tax departments as a result of a “comprehensive investigation” conducted by KPMG International. Disciplinary steps with the eye to a dismissal will also be initiated against the lead partner overseeing the audits of the non-listed Gupta companies. KPMG’s investigation relates to a series of damning stories by amaBhungane and Scorpio based on the #GuptaLeaks. We revealed how the Guptas laundered millions of rand earmarked for emerging black farmers in the Free State through Dubai to pay for the “event of the millenium” – the Sun City wedding. All this while #KPMG was supposed to look over their shoulder. Public pressure also ensured that KPMG revisited the discredited KPMG report into the South African Revenue Service (SARS) investigative unit made out as “rogue” at the end of 2014. KPMG’s conclusion to their investigation: They saw no evil and were repeatedly mislead. BY PAULI VAN WYK.
Reports emerged this week that the ANC in Mpumalanga was going to support ANC Treasurer Zweli Mkhize for the position of party leader in December. Coming in a week in which the party’s KwaZulu-Natal leadership lost a crucial court case, and as divisions in the party deepen, it appears that a realisation is dawning of just how close the party could be to an irrevocable split. Coming with that realisation is the search for candidates who can keep the party together, and get it over the existential hurdle that December is becoming. This means it may be time to consider the possibility of Mkhize becoming leader of the ANC, and then President of South Africa. On the national campaign trail he may be the one person who could bridge the urban/rural divide. But his Achilles’ heel could well be the ANC itself, and whether he would be able to exert control over it. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
From the time the Sekunjalo Group purchased Independent Media SA (INMSA) from its Irish owners four years ago, INMSA publications have undergone a radical repositioning – particularly the Cape Times and its coverage of the University of Cape Town (UCT), Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) and Fees Must Fall (FMF). This transformation occurred almost simultaneously with INMSA executive chairman Iqbal Survé’s resignation from his university posts. UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price claims Survé jumped before he was pushed. Were personal reasons behind an apparent Survé vendetta against UCT and its management? By RICKY STOCH.
As Women’s month got under way in August, Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula announced a six-point plan aimed at how police should deal with victims of gender-based violence. He said that each police station would have the plan posted visibly and officers would be made aware of it through a national instruction. But nearly a month since his pronouncement, an instruction is yet to be given and officers in charge offices around the country are clueless about the plan. By PUSELETSO NTHATE.
On Thursday it appeared that strike action was averted for the time being at UCT. Emphasis on “the time being”. While the Executive appeared relieved and said negotiation was going well, union members said the issues resolved thus far were “quite small” and they had little faith that the university was ready for the kind of change they envisaged. This is where it gets clear as mud. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
What does sanity look like in a world that’s gone mad? As humanity approaches the bottom of its resource bucket, this question is consuming an increasing number of economists, none more so than the University of Pretoria’s Lorenzo Fioramonti. Big Oil, Big Mining, Big Food, Big Pharma —they are all ultimately the same, his book reminds us, because they are all the hell-spawn of a system that demands eternal growth. So what are the alternatives? By KEVIN BLOOM.
ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize has previously raised his hand to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president, but so far he’s more widely been punted as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s number two. Now, however, Khabazela has turned up the charm offensive (and he really, really knows how to), gently stepping up his campaign for the top spot. But what is it that he’s really trying to achieve? By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Appeal needed less than four hours to conclude its hearings. The case at hand: President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority’s appeal against a lower court’s judgment that the decision to drop Zuma’s corruption charges was irrational. As it turned out, pretty much everybody in the courtroom was on the same page, agreeing that the decision to drop the charges was incorrect. This consensus means that the Supreme Court will now almost certainly dismiss Zuma’s and the NPA’s appeal, meaning that corruption charges will be reinstated against Zuma. So what’s the plan on the part of Zuma’s wily legal counsel? By REBECCA DAVIS.
While SARS commissioner Tom Moyane has claimed that he did not lodge a charge against former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan which served as a cover to wage an almost year-long witch hunt by the Hawks, led by the now disgraced and suspended Mthandazo Ntlemeza, evidence attached to court papers handed in to the Pretoria High court this week indicate otherwise. The tangled web at the embattled revenue service seems to be nudging Moyane into a corner. Or maybe not. By MARIANNE THAMM.
In a recent article on the High Court judgment which dismissed an application to evict Sikade and her neighbours at Marikana, Helen Zille misrepresents the facts of the case, ignores the applicable law, and fails to come to grips with the practical realities faced by the Marikana residents, who face a daily struggle to secure a home. By the SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS INSTITUTE OF SOUTH AFRICA.
The City of Cape Town's water demand management strategy restricts how much water poor households can use, while allowing those with swimming pools and water-guzzling gardens to imagine they live in a world of abundant water. This illusion has been allowed to last for far, far too long. And is, we believe, at the root of many of the difficulties we are currently facing. By JESSICA WILSON and TARYN PEREIRA.
Former deputy higher education and training minister Mduduzi Manana on Wednesday pleaded and was found guilty of three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm on charges relating to attacking three women at a nightclub in August. Manana said: “If you’ve provoked, walk away. Don’t act in this way. Now I had to man up. That’s what a leader does.” Sentencing has been postponed and it’s anyone’s guess what punishment he might receive. By GREG NICOLSON.
Have you lost track of the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, and why they are considered a persecuted minority? Confused about the situation in Myanmar, and why previously saintly Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be rapidly ceding her moral high ground? Wondering if South Africa is doing anything about what is widely regarded as a human rights catastrophe? We have you covered. By REBECCA DAVIS.
It is now well-established that global consultants McKinsey and their local Gupta-linked counterpart Trillian extracted R1.6-billion in fees for “turnaround” advice given to Eskom. In this investigation, the first in a series, we delve into an explosive report that says Eskom ignored warnings that the proposed contract might be illegal, and reveal internal documents detailing how McKinsey and Trillian planned their multibillion-rand payday. The scandal has further dented Eskom’s image, already battered by a succession of “state capture” revelations. Now it is threatening the consulting companies too. Corruption Watch says it is alerting US authorities about McKinsey, while Trillian appears to be fighting to stay open. By Susan Comrie for AMABHUNGANE and Pauli van Wyk for SCORPIO.
Close to two dozen leaders from the ANC’s leagues and regions in KwaZulu-Natal gathered at the party’s provincial headquarters where they implied that the court ruling which declared its conference unlawful and void was absurd. So now, they said, they would “defend the ANC” by supporting the provincial executive committee’s decision to appeal the ruling – although it’s not yet clear what the national leadership thinks of this. Meanwhile, this fight could soon come to a polling station near you. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
The muddle and political fault lines in Cabinet came into sharp relief over the financially and governance-troubled SAA when the deputy finance minister and the deputy president appeared at odds in Parliament. Central to this was the extension of Dudu Myeni’s term as SAA board chairperson, which the finance committee late on Wednesday resolved must be reviewed because of concerns over its legality. And with just 16 days to go before R6.8-billion falls due for repayment by the national airliner, questions also arose over government’s bailout through a special appropriations Bill that requires public hearings and proper committee processes before adoption. Parliament goes into constituency recess on Friday. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
This is the seventh edition of the Open Secrets’ series, Declassified: Apartheid Profits. While researching the recently published book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. This treasure trove contains damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. Many of these documents were kept secret until now. Most remain hidden despite South Africa’s transition to democracy. OPEN SECRETS believes that it is vital to allow the public to scrutinise the primary evidence. Here we invite you behind the scenes to look at the documents that informed the book. Last week we looked at the global money-laundering system managed by Kredietbank Luxembourg. This week we see how a secret office in Paris was responsible for using this system to broker weapons deals and bust the embargo.
The Democratic Alliance, which will be in the North Gauteng High Court most of the week in two cases against the president, on Tuesday argued that President Jacob Zuma has violated the Constitution by not establishing a commission of inquiry into Gupta-linked state capture, as recommended by the former public protector. Zuma first wants a chance to challenge Thuli Madonsela’s report. By GREG NICOLSON.