The South African Federation of Trade Unions warmly welcomes this morning’s search and seizure operations by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks) relating to the Vrede Dairy corruption allegations, at the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture.
The federation is justifiably proud of its role as a catalyst for the strong action now being taken. Its letters to the National prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the Hawks, demanding action against those alleged to have been involved in corruption – and SAFTU’s legal action against Eskom, Trillian and McKinsey on charges of fraud, theft, corruption and money-laundering – have contributed to the action now being taken to bring those implicated in corruption to court.
This follows the action already taken by he Assets Forfeiture Unit to freeze the assets of those allegedly involved and the removal of the Eskom Board.
Two specialised units of the Hawks have spent Friday searching for specific documents and electronic data linked to the case. Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that they will be going to the Vrede farm on Saturday to speak to the beneficiaries of alleged corruption.
“If there is a need for us to confiscate or seize, then we have those members present as well, and they are also downloading everything,” said Mulaudzi. “We are dealing with criminal cases, not civil cases.”
The tide has clearly turned after years of inaction by the NPA and Hawks. It has to be declared as a victory for SAFTU and all democratic South Africans who had become so frustrated at the continuing looting of millions of rands of the people’s wealth by voracious criminals, including political leaders in whom they had placed their trust.
The federation however warns that there is still a long way to travel before we can claim that the battle against crime and corruption has been finally won. The NPA and Hawks must take the same kind of action as they are today against all of those named in the former Public Protector’s ‘State of Capture’ report, the Gupta emails and Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers’. The boards of other SOEs need to be dealt with in the same strict fashion as Eskom’s.
SAFTU also continues to insist that corruption and state capture are not confined to a few businesses, families and politicians – a ‘Guptocracy’ – but is an inherent feature of a monopoly capitalist system, whose ruling class captured the state years ago and still dominates economic policy-making today.
Their class of multi-billionaires pressurised successive ANC government into adopting neoliberal, pro-big business economic programmes designed to strengthen their power over the state and society. They are responsible for the colossal crisis of soaring unemployment, more than half of South Africans living in power and South Africa becoming the world most unequal society.
They created the environment which made it easy for criminals to manipulate tenders and contracts, bribe greedy officials and launder money into tax havens.
To them the chief crime committed by Zuma and the Guptas was to pursue their self-enrichment in such crude and obvious ways is that it was beginning to discredit all businesses and politicians in general.
People, especially the propertyless black working class, are increasingly beginning to see the state as no longer serving the interests of broader society but the narrow interests of a corrupt and greedy multi-billionaire capitalist class and this is encouraging calls for revolutionary change.
This alarmed the rich and powerful, including the multi-billionaire ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, and they needed him to be seen to be taking action against the ‘Guptocracy’ in order to safeguard the interests of the ruling class as a whole.
They wanted him to allow them to continue with business as usual, satisfy the credit ratings agencies and the global financial institutions and continue to impose austerity budgets and job cuts on the workers in order to protect profits and privileges. He is now doing just what they want.
While the swift action against corruption will be welcomed, this will not be the case with the austerity cuts, the amendment to the labour laws which threaten workers’ democratic rights and the legitimising of poverty wages of R20 an hour.
SAFTU will never give up its fight to expose corruption and crime but will equally never stop fighting for a socialist society and the realization of the ideals of the Freedom Charter for a nation owned by all the people who live in it and in which the national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people.