More than 1 billion spent on commissions of inquiry – mostly for corruption

More than R1 billion has been spent on various commissions of inquiry in recent years, most of them investigating corruption.


This is according to DearSA — a legally recognised and constitutionally protected non-profit platform which enables the public to co-shape all government policies, amendments and proposals.

GRANDDADDY OF THEM ALL: THE ZONDO COMMISSION OF INQUIRY


The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture has been allocated an additional R130 million to complete its work by March 2021. This is on top of the roughly R700 million spent so far on the inquiry since its formation in early 2018.


The total cost of the Zondo Commission is R830 million, while no corrupt individuals have been jailed. 


"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 leasing for locomotives that could not be used because they were too tall for the rail tracks," said DearSA MD Rob Hutchinson. 


Zondo has summoned the Hawks to account for the lack of progress on this, and other, cases.


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.

MARIKANA INQUIRY COST R153 MILLION


Hutchinson described 2012 as a "low point" for the SA Police Service when 34 mineworkers were shot and 78 wounded during a violent strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in the North West province.


A Commission of Inquiry was set up in 2012 and sat through till 2015 regarding Marikana. It 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. 

SERITI COMMISSION INTO ARMS DEAL COST R130 MILLION 


Open Secrets reports that the Seriti Commission in Inquiry into the arms deal, which ran for four years, cost taxpayers more than R130 million. 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 dealmaking by senior political figures in collaboration with international arms companies. 


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

PIC INQUIRY COST R54.5 MILLION


The Commission of Inquiry into the PIC was set up in 2019 to investigate any impropriety surrounding investment decisions made by the Public Investment Corporation (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." The PIC was also heavily invested in the VBS Bank, which was found to have looted municipalities around the country.


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 reports 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.

NUGENT COMMISSION OF INQUIRY COST R8.8 MILLION


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. According to Hutchinson, 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," said Hutchinson. 


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


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. 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," he said.

MOKGORO BOARD OF INQUIRY INTO NATIONAL PROSECUTING OFFICIALS COST R3.6 MILLION


According to DearSA, 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.