R1bn spent on commissions, but with very little to show for it


The Commission of Inquiry has spent more than R1 billion without convictions being made in regards to the officials involved in the various corruption scandals.

The commission has gone through several inquiries including Zondo, Marikana, Nugent and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) for example, with each inquiry costing millions of rands in the process.

Dear South Africa Managing Director, Rob Hutchinson breaks down the cost of each commission of inquiry. Dear South Africa is a public advocacy group.

R700 million spent on Zondo Inquiry

Recently, the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture was allocated an additional R130 million to complete its work by March 2021 despite having spent approximately R700 million so far since 2018 while a few people lost their jobs.

Hutchinson said he hopes that arrests will be made in the matter.

"To be fair, Zondo has not completed its work and arrests will surely follow. In June this year, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked the Hawks to account for the lack of progress made in recovering the R2.4 billion paid by Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) to Swifambo Rail easing for locomotives that could not be used because they were too tall for the rail tracks."

"Zondo has summoned the Hawks to account for the lack of progress on this, and other, cases," he said in a statement.

According to Hutchinson, many South Africans were outraged at the outpouring of corrupt tales from Zondo and other commissions of inquiry, and the fact that were held to account.

"Moneyweb reports there were eight arrests related to the looting at VBS Bank, and four executives from Tubular Construction and Eskom were arrested late last year in relation to claims of corruption around contracts awarded for the building of the Kusile Power Station.

"That's about it. A dozen arrests, but no convictions as yet. And a few people lost their jobs," he said.

It was reported that R244.5 million was spent in the year the commission was set up (2018/19) and R111 million the following year.

"We have only a rough idea how the Zondo Commission budget was spent, thanks to answers provided by the ruling party in September last year to questions posed by the DA," Hutchinson said.

He said most costs of the commission belonged to things like legal fees which was R53 million, investigative tools which costed R35 million, investigators which stood at R86 million and "other goods and services" which equalled to R95 million.

"We don't have more recent figures, which have obviously ballooned over the last financial year," he added.

Hutchinson also noted that President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a special tribunal under the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to recover an estimated R14.7 billion in looted funds in July 2019.

R153 million spent on Marikana Inquiry

In 2012, 34 mineworkers were shot and 78 wounded by South African Police Services (SAPS) officers during a violent strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in North West.

A Commission of Inquiry in the matter was set up in 2012 and sat through till 2015.

This was chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, and in 2015 issued its findings, which included recommendations of a further inquiry into the fitness of senior police officials to hold office, and referred the killings and assaults to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further investigation.

"The cost of the inquiry was R153 million. Police say they acted in self-defence, but issued no apology to the families of the slain miners.

"There has, however, been a noticeable change in police behaviour in handling violent protests as a result of the Marikana massacre," Hutchinson said.

R130 million spent on Seriti Commission into arms deal

Open Secrets reported that the Seriti Commission in Inquiry into the arms deal cost taxpayers more than R130 million in a period offour years.

"It is reckoned that the arms deal cost South Africa R65 billion, and Judge Willie Seriti, who chaired the inquiry, was accused by more than 40 civil society organisations of conducting a whitewash of corrupt deal-making by senior political figures in collaboration with international arms companies."

Hutchinson further said Corruption Watch and Open Secrets accused Seriti of failing in his duty to act impartially, failing to hold accountable those accused of corruption and ignoring key evidence.

"This resulted in the North Gauteng High Court setting aside the findings of the Seriti Commission for its "manifest failure" to hold those responsible for the arms deal to account in August 2019."

R54.5 million spent on PIC Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry into the PIC was set up in 2019 to investigate any impropriety surrounding investment decisions made by the PIC. The cost of the commission came to R54.5 million – small change compared to Zondo.

The PIC manages more than R2 trillion in funds, predominantly on behalf of public sector workers.

The Commission found multiple irregularities relating to loans and share swaps made to the Sekunjalo Group, and recommended a forensic review of all process involved in transactions with Sekunjalo.

"Further irregularities were found in the PIC's R1 billion investment in a Mozambican pal oil plant called S&S Refinery, and a R9.4 billion equity and loan funding transaction to Steinhoff International Holdings.

"A reading of the final report shows numerous violations of internal policies and irregular funding to business deals, some of them clearly deals for pals."

Hutchcinson also noted the PIC's investment in VBS Bank, which was found to have looted municipalities in South Africa.

"As a result of the Inquiry into the PIC, there were some positive outcomes. Dan Matjila resigned as CEO of the PIC in November 2018 while fighting claims of impropriety which are now under an internal investigation.

"Executive head of listed investments, Fidelis Madavo, and assistant portfolio manager Victor Seanie, were fired over the last year. This followed an internal investigation into a R4.3 billion investment by the PIC into AYO Technology Solutions.

"Daily Maverick reported that in April 2018, PIC's executive head of risk management, Paul Magula' was fired after being found guilty of poor performance, while executive head for legal counsel' governance and compliance, Ernest Nesane' resigned."

R8.8 million spent on Nugent Commission of Inquiry

Retired Judge Robert Nugent chaired the Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at the SA Revenue Service, at a total cost of R8.8 million.

Nugent rounded on former tax commissioner Tom Moyane who had seized control of Sars and "dismantled the elements of governance one by one."

"The findings are scathing, and point to a pattern of governance failures and weakening revenue collection under his watch."

President Cyril Ramaphosa fired Moyane in 2018 as a result of the Nugent findings, Hutchinson said.

"A 2014 benchmarking exercise by the International Monetary Fund found that Sars was world class in 15 of 27 categories, and only one rung below good international practice in one of the remaining 12 categories.

"It was a place of higher calling for many skilled professionals eager to build a new democratic SA, says Nugent's report. But by March 2018 it was a shadow of the organisation lauded by the IMF.

"It reeked of intrigue, fear, suspicion and mistrust."

He further said Moyane installed CCTV cameras to surveille his staff, some of whom covered the lenses for fear of ending up in disciplinary hearing for a misdemeanor.

"The modernisation programme that had been a decade in the making, replacing the largely paper-based system that preceded it with state-of-the-art computer systems, was summarily stopped when Moyane took over the helm, "with not so much as a word to the person who had been instrumental in creating it."

"US-based consulting firm Bain & Co had a destructive hand in dismantling working installations without consulting staff. Bain subsequently repaid R217 million to Sars."

R3.6 million spent on Mokgoro Board of Inquiry into National Prosecuting officials

The Mokgoro Board of Inquiry into the fitness of advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi to occupy the top positions in the National Prosecuting Authority cost the country R3.6 million.

Jiba was accused of being politically captured by former President Jacob Zuma.

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