Corruption Watch responded to a public announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the first part of the Zondo Commission’s report, which covers state engagement regarding SAA, SAA Technical, SA Express, Eskom, Transnet, Sars and public procurement.
The Commission is expected to submit parts 2 and 3 of the report to the president by the end of February.
Ramaphosa assured the public that he would submit the complete final report, consisting of parts 1, 2 and 3, to Parliament by 30 June 2022, and that he would indicate his intention to implement the commission’s recommendations.
Corruption Watch said on Thursday 6 that the publication of the report should encourage civil society and the public to demand accountability and action when the president responds to the report.
Citing evidence of high-level corruption revealed in the report, the organization believes the public has a right to be part of the process that accompanies the implementation of the commission’s recommendations.
Corruption Watch said giving the public immediate access to the commission’s findings and recommendations would ensure transparency in “steps taken to identify priorities” for rehabilitating weakened institutions and closing “corruption-making holes.”
The Anti-Corruption Organization is confident that this will strengthen systems and decision-making to prevent corruption and capture the state in the future.
“While we welcome the commitment to transparency in making the report available to the public and sharing the timelines that emerge, the real test will be management’s commitment to tackling corruption and ensuring that all those involved are brought to justice,” Karam Singh said. executive director of Corruption Watch.
“What this means is that we as a civil society, together with the citizens, will be able to pay full attention to the findings of the report, while maintaining pressure on those in the leadership to act in accordance with its recommendations,” he added.
“Less encouraging is the time that will no doubt pass before any real action or consequences are seen,” Singh complained.
Independent Anti-Corruption Agency
Although there were concerns about corruption in public procurement before President Jacob Zuma, the scale and scope of procurement fraud escalated under state capture.
Corruption Watch noted that the commission was “unequivocal in its position on the subversion of the procurement process under the Zuma administration and the role of the Gupta family and other ANC-compliant businesses in orchestrating state occupation.” He also recognized the reforms of the public procurement system recommended by the Commission.
The organization supports the recommendation of the commission for an independent anti-corruption agency and agrees that careful consideration should be given to where the agency is in relation to the government.
Corruption Watch is involved in ongoing procurement work, including addressing deficiencies in the current Public Procurement Bill, as well as recommending the implementation of OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) principles for integrity in public procurement.
The organization advocated for deferred prosecution agreements, as did the commission.
Singh, along with Petrus Marais and Kaede Wildschut, believe the deferred prosecution agreement regime would offer relief to current backlogs in public prosecutors ’offices and offer cost-effectiveness.
The Zondo Commission considered the whistleblower an effective weapon against corruption, but acknowledged that the current system does not provide an incentive to detect corruption.
The commission stated that the current law does not envisage a clear procedure that whistleblowers should follow, nor does it provide physical protection.
Corruption Watch said whistleblowers “who run the risk of exposing corruption … deserve a better offer than they have received to date.”
The commission recommended that the anonymity of the whistleblower be protected, that he be provided with adequate physical protection, and that the protection must extend to compensation from civil and criminal liability.
Corruption Watch called for consideration for compensation for whistleblowers and greater support for whistleblowers.
The organization also calls for an amendment to the Protected Data Disclosure Act, “proposed establishment of an agency to provide legal, financial and mental health support to whistleblowers, and advocacy for criminal sanctions against those found guilty of intimidating whistleblowers.”