Treat corruption like apartheid: Council of Churches calls for TRC

2016-11-03 17:04

The South African Council of Churches is calling for a “Corruption Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” in light of the release of the State of Capture report.

This was announced by secretary-general of the council, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, this morning. Mpumlwana appeared alongside council president Ziphozihle Daniel Siwa, as they addressed the media on their “unburdening panel” initiative.

The panel was set up in April to investigate allegations of state capture.

“The Gupta chapter is only one part of the larger tapestry of possible corruption and improper influence, and that for South Africa to be healed, we believe we should treat corruption with the same attitude that we treated the atrocities that were dealt with through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).”

“The emergence of Gupta allegations that began with the courageous public accounts of Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas were, as far as this country is concerned, a moment of God’s grace because it gave the country the opportunity of resolve to change for a better moral standard.”

Secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana PHOTO: S’thembile Cele

Yesterday the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the Office of the Public Protector should release the much-anticipated report after President Jacob Zuma and ministers Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane attempted to interdict its release.

While the report has no adverse findings against any one person, it does raise a number of red flags. Madonsela’s determination that a judicial inquiry must be set up – with strict timelines and headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng – could see the likes of Zuma facing intense cross-examination.

“We are profoundly shocked by the detail of what appears to be calculated intrigue in the goings on catalogued in the report. Considering that this enquiry was focused on a slice of possible activities that only relate to the Gupta family, we wonder what an investigation of the fuller extent of such improper relationships up and down the various levels of government might reveal; or even if it focused on the various [state-owned enterprises] at both national and provincial levels,” Mpumlwana said of Madonsela’s report.

The unburdening panel was set up as a ministry of sorts which would provide care for anyone wanting to disclose instances of state capture of which they were aware. Mpumlwana said the same people who approached Madonsela – Vytjie Mentor and Mcebisi Jonas – were among those who approached them for their pastoral services as well.

While he could not quote exact figures on the number of people who had participated in the process, Mpumlwana said there were about 30 people involved.

“We have been alarmed by the fear factor in the faces of the people who have wished not to be publicised – people who have lost their jobs; people who fear for their lives; but who do want to say something to unburden themselves so that they can sleep with a measure of peace.”

The secretary general said that recent events such as #FeesMustFall and the release of the report have exposed South Africans as not being united and in urgent need of intentional reconciliation and unity.

He suggested that a TRC-like structure on corruption – where people would get amnesty for coming out about instances of corruption – would be a good starting point.

On whether or not the president should step down, Mpumlwana said that they could not make such a pronouncement in public without having discussed the matter in person with the president first.

The council of churches has repeatedly requested a meeting with the president – most recently over #FeesMustFall – but are yet to get some face time with Number One.

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April 22 2018