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Dear Mzwanele Manyi, The FIC Bill Stops Theft Of African Money - Why Are You Against It?

The FIC Bill empowers Africa to grow its economies by ending looting. I don’t understand how a Pan-Africanist like you can be against it.

08/02/2017 04:58 SAST | Updated 08/02/2017 09:49 SAST
Deon Raath / Foto24 / Gallo Images
Huffington Post editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee in 2015.

This blog post forms part of a debate between Progressive Professionals Forum president Mzwanele Manyi and Huffington Post SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee, on the constitutionalism and implementation of the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill. You can read Mzwanele's post here. - blogs editor.

Dear Mzwanele,

The Financial Intelligence Centre is an awesome institution and I can't understand why you are standing in its way.

It protects the public purse from pilfer and looting. The system is established by beefing up the powers of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body given teeth in the light of the great recession and the growth of global terrorism.

How does it do so? It makes transparent money flows which before were opaque. By making the flow of money difficult to track, money laundering was common, as a global mafia sought to wash its ill-gotten gains. Global capital was aided in its search for the highest profits and the system helped super-rich people stash their money in the lowest tax havens. After 9/11, the horrific terror attack on the US, it transpired that these same systems were used to fund attacks around the world.

The Panama Papers leak last year, the details of thousands of secret Swiss bank accounts, have moved the needle on global secrecy, impunity of thieving leaders and the ability to move capital to places where the least tax is levied.

The Financial Intelligence Centre and laws in South Africa make our country part of the system of best practice.

The Financial Intelligence Centre amendment bill (FIC bill), now before parliament, is an effort to further strengthen the Centre and its attendant laws and systems, which improve our ability to stamp out money-laundering and the flow of illicit funds.

The FIC laws and its mooted amendment make it difficult for leaders and multinational corporations to steal from developing countries like ours and others in post-colonial Africa which have been subject to systemic rape and looting.

Imagine if such a system had existed in the heyday of Nigerian strongman and former president Sani Abacha? How different might that country look? Abacha is said to have stolen over $5 billion from his country and ferreted it into foreign bank accounts. Many leaders like him have followed suit but the new systems of transparency make it more difficult to do so.

The FIC law and its mooted amendment make it difficult for leaders and multinational corporations to steal from developing countries like ours and others in post-colonial Africa which have been subject to systemic rape and looting.

Former President Thabo Mbeki found in 2015 that Africa loses $50 billion a year to illicit financial outflows. Laws like the FIC bill are meant to deal with this. This amount is double what the continent receives in aid, suggesting that if we stop the theft, Africa would no longer need foreign aid.

I am surprised that a Pan-Africanist like you who believes in black empowerment has set your face against a law which is meant to enable Africa and South Africa to stand on its own, to grow our own economies and ensure our money is not ferreted out to foreign shores.

In doing so, you stand with the Gupta family who have used their media to campaign against the FIC bill, possibly because the Financial Intelligence Centre has made public a list of 72 questionable transactions by the family's various personal and business accounts.

In confusion,

Best wishes,

Ferial