This article below was published by The Citizen:
national 17.1.2017 06:01 am
R2K says Mkhwebane’s probe is a reminder that, two decades into democracy, the country was yet to see the full exposure of apartheid-era secrets.
While the South African Reserve Bank has found a number of errors in the leaked public protector’s report into the investigation into Absa Bank’s apartheid-era bailout, the NGO Right2Know (R2K) is looking forward to the next step of the public protector’s much-delayed investigation to reveal more apartheid looting sprees.
Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said they had identified several errors in the preliminary report which was leaked before Absa could finish with its submissions and without Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane honouring the bank’s invitation to come and inspect confidential documents pertinent to the successful finalisation of her probe.
In the report, Absa is required to pay back R2.25 billion as interest from a bailout given to Bankorp before the bank was acquired by Absa in 1992.
However, Mkhwebane’s action was seen as revenge by the Zuma faction against Absa, one of several major banks that closed the accounts of the Zuma-aligned Gupta family due to suspected illegal transactions.
Political analysts associated the Absa probe with ongoing political battles in government and the ruling party, including the alleged attempt by the Zuma faction to control National Treasury.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was allegedly seen as a stumbling block in these nefarious attempts, hence initial attempts to prosecute him on unfounded charges that have since been withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority.
On Monday, R2K welcomed Mkhwebane’s probe into what it called looting from the SA Reserve Bank during the apartheid era.
“Not only is the public protector’s report much delayed, but the saga itself has drawn out since the ’90s, when the Reserve Bank first had an opportunity to fully recover the apartheid-era loans from Absa. This entire episode underscores how little has been done to uncover apartheid-era corruption and return the proceeds of economic crime under the previous regime, more than two decades later,” said R2K spokesperson Busi Mtabane in a statement on Monday.
She said the probe was a reminder that, two decades into democracy, the country was yet to see the full release of apartheid-era secrets.
Mtabane claimed these included millions of documents from the apartheid regime that were still held by departments across government that were yet to be released to the public.
“In fact, the Reserve Bank currently faces a court challenge for refusing to release its apartheid records to the South African History Archive and the Open Secrets project,” she continued.
Mtabane also pointed out that a documentary titled Project Spear about Absa’s Reserve Bank loans and broader alleged evidence of apartheid-era looting had been censored by the SABC, which had commissioned it in the first place.
“The SABC sought a court order gagging film maker Sylvia Vollenhoven from distributing the film, or using the footage. If the SABC had not done a cover-up of its own documentary, millions of South Africans would know about this story already,” Mtabane said.