18/05/2017 22:58 SAST | Updated 19/05/2017 06:14 SAST

ANC Needs To Stop The Slide To Becoming A Failed State, Says The SACC

Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana is a worried man.

Business mogul and close friend of President Jacob Zuma, Atul Gupta. The Gupta family is at the centre of state capture allegations.
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Business mogul and close friend of President Jacob Zuma, Atul Gupta. The Gupta family is at the centre of state capture allegations.

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) have urged the African National Congress (ANC) to "examine" themselves before the country becomes a "failed state" -– something which the SACC believes the country may not recover from.

The SACC created the 'unburdening panel' last year as a safe facility to anyone wanting to report any form of commercial wrongdoing, even their own, in the hopes of saving a South Africa that they believe is "a few inches away from becoming a mafia state".

During a media briefing Thursday, which was attended by former Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan and former head of the Hawks Anwa Dramat, SACC secretary-general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana revealed some of their observations thus far. The briefing was held at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto.

"Some came forward only to share their experiences with no desire to be publicly revealed, but to clear their chests only. Others were ready to go public, and these we encouraged to go to the Public Protector, which they did. Their stories are now before the nation in the 'State of Capture' report that has yet to be acted upon by the government," Mpumlwana said.

"Most people who came to us were broken people who just wanted to unburden themselves, as they would say, 'so that I can sleep' . . . they were terrified of anybody finding out that they had talked to us. If, in the age of constitutional democracy, we have citizens who are so terrified of their own government and its agents and operatives, as to fear for their lives, then we have a serious problem."

In his presentation, Mpumlwana said there were cases of government employees at municipal and provincial levels who were pressured to divert funds "inappropriately" to "certain activities that had nothing to do with the work and purpose of the budget".

He said there were others who admitted to rigging tender process, on the instruction of their superiors, in favour of certain companies and individuals, or bend and tailor regulations for a desired outcome.

"This is sometimes referred to as shaking down the people, accessing money and opportunities through deceitful and illegal ways of pressuring vulnerable people or companies."

While most of the whistleblowers opted for the security of what the SACC called the "anonymity option", Mpumlwana said others chose to go public and gave much of the same information to the Public Protector, thereby feeding the State Capture report.

"It (the panel) began mainly as a receptacle of stories being shared in unburdening; but soon it became apparent that there were discernible patterns of the systemic undermining of governance that go beyond petty corruption, so as to seriously threaten constitutional democracy," Mpumlwana said.

"It now seems that the problem is far greater than corruption, but organized chaos. We have now come to learn that what appears to be chaos and instability in government may well be a systemic design of the madness that ills our governmental environment, a chaotic design."

Mpumlwana concluded that the ANC has lost the "moral radar".

"It's (the ANC's) operations seem to be driven by an outside interest, strategically located at the top of the executive, in order to periodically raid various units of the State," Mpumlwana said.

"What we see persuades us that the present government has lost moral legitimacy. The question that this has raised is in the constitutional dimension: does the conduct of the government render it to have violated its constitutional mandate?"

With a panel that constituted, among others, former Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro and former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission Brigalia Bam, the campaign has set out to build a portfolio of personal accounts that would be either made public or handed over to a relevant authority depending on the whistleblower.

The panel is still accessible to whistleblowers. The full report is expected to be tabled next week.