POLITICS

State Capture: 'If We Don't Act, The Fiscus Will Collapse"

The EFF's Floyd Shivambu laid down the law during Thursday's parliamentary inquiry into state-owned enterprises.

01/11/2017 16:23 SAST | Updated 01/11/2017 16:23 SAST
ALEXANDER JOE via Getty Images
Floyd Shivambu.

A strong call and a warning to act quickly on gross corruption at state-owned companies were made during the parliamentary inquiry into state capture on Wednesday.

"We have to do something because all the other institutions that were supposed to stop the crime that is going on now are not doing anything," Floyd Shivambu of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) told MPs, speaking towards the end of the fifth sitting of the investigation being conducted by Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee.

There is a widespread perception that the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority are proceeding too slowly in tackling corruption. Last week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa urged them not to be overtaken by the FBI, which has opened an investigation into certain members of the Gupta family.

Earlier on Tuesday, MPs had heard testimony from business rescue practitioner Piers Marsden on the acquisition of Optimum Coal Holdings and its major assets, including the Optimum Coal Mine, by the then Gupta-owned business Tegeta.

Tegeta's shareholders at that time included the Gupta-owned Oakbay, as well as President Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane.

The Optimum Coal Mine supplies Eskom's power station at Hendrina.

Responding to questions from both MPs and the committee's evidence leader, Marsden confirmed financial details of the purchase, including a suspicious prepayment of R586 million to Tegeta, which had prompted him to report the matter to the authorities.

Shivambu said Tegeta continued to supply coal to Eskom, "through a deal that is . . . decidedly illegal . . . there is prima facie evidence that it is illegal".

However, when such matters were raised with the authorities, little happened.

"When you raise such matters, and you go to the police, you go to the NPA, they say they are working on it. The Hawks, say they are working on it; they say they are working on it in a broader context, let's wait for a commission of inquiry.

"This is an illegality that is going on now. Tegeta is still a recipient of millions of rands of payments from Eskom as we speak."

He called for Parliament to "halt some of the ongoing crime that is being committed now".

In the case of coal supply and Eskom, the impact would be felt by ordinary South Africans "who are now going to be forced to pay 20 percent more for electricity because of the mismanagement of Eskom".

Eskom is applying for a 20 percent increase in electricity tariffs.

"This will impact the country's economic recovery. There is a shortfall of R50 billion in terms of what is required for the state to operate optimally. And we are increasing electricity under those circumstances.

"We have to do something. I don't think our hands are completely tied. We should look into tabling a preliminary report, make concrete recommendations, and if whoever is affected thinks we have acted outside of the law, they should subject us to a judicial review. We will than take it from there."

Shivambu said he was convinced the country's courts would "appreciate that Parliament has acted in a rational way to stop the industrial-scale corruption that is . . . currently ongoing in South Africa.

"We can ask questions, [but] we must not delay this thing. We are going to collapse South Africa; we are going to collapse the entire fiscus on our watch.

"When history looks back and people ask, 'What did you do?', we will say we were just talking among ourselves and asking each other questions when the crime was ongoing.

"I think we have got an opportunity to do something, and let's discuss how we can table a preliminary report," he told his committee colleagues.

Shivambu then appealed to committee chairwoman Zukiswa Rantho to table a preliminary report "in the next ordinary sitting of the National Assembly", saying concrete resolutions were needed to halt the corruption.

Speaking to HuffPost SA at the end of the inquiry session, Rantho said Shivambu's call should be heeded.

"As much as we are going to have a preliminary full report at the end of the year, we need to present to Parliament the information we have [to date]. It needs to be taken up immediately. So I think the call that he has made, it is a brilliant call.

She said anger was growing among committee members.

"We have been interacting with the public enterprises department, we have been interacting with all state-owned entities that are being named, and we were getting [from them] different information. That makes us angry because that means they took us for granted."

Rantho said her committee would meet to discuss and act on the matter.