Politics

Tue,16Oct2018

Politics

The next revolutionary movement is sweeping across Southern Africa

 

WIKUS DE WET/AFPThe ruling liberation movements of the Southern African region have stark choices in this confluence of historic moments: reform governance and  fight corruption, or risk losing power and provoking the ire of a new generation of activists

Read more...

Opinion: No man is an island

 

Patrick Smith, editor-in-chief of The Africa Report, shares his thoughts on nurturing Africa's creativity and innovation

Read more...

The ethnic rivalry that holds Kenya hostage

 

17437.HR

Ten days before Kenya’s fresh presidential election on 26 October, a doctor took to Twitter to describe a harrowing ordeal. After a checkup, a patient asked for the doctor’s name and number so he could seek him out directly in future. When the doctor gave it to him, the patient asked: “You are one of those people?” The patient then spat on him and left. By “those people”, the patient was talking about the Luo.

Read more...

The resistance begins: Kenya's opposition marches on after last year's electoral boycott

 

Ben Curtis/AP/SIPAAfter Nasa’s boycott allowed President Uhura Kenyatta a landslide victory, Raila Odinga’s “national campaign of defiance” is emerging as a highly organised force

Read more...

From the boardroom to the ballot paper: African business leaders move into politics

MATHIEU PERSAN FOR TARAcross the globe and on the continent, business tycoons are trying their hand at government.  The Africa Report looks at their successes  and failures in using their commercial skills to build popular support and fix economies

Read more...

'The African Union should take care of itself': Moussa Faki Mahamat tries to remake the bloc

Michael Brochstein via Zuma WireIn an exclusive interview with The Africa Report, the new AU Commission chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, lays out his strategy to make the organisation more effective and relevant

Read more...

When the business of impunity meets the impunity of business

The apologias from multi­nationals embroiled in South Africa’s ever-expanding Guptagate scandal have a haunting familiarity. They mimic an earlier non-apology: the submission by former president F. W. de Klerk on behalf of the National Party to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up after South Africa’s first free elections in 1994.

In practised lawyer-speak, De Klerk asserted that “mistakes were made” during 50 years of apartheid, but that its leaders were “good and honourable men”. Unfortunately, said De Klerk, while trying to counter the “menace of international communism” a “context” was created in which “abuses by security personnel were not sufficiently discouraged”. Surveying the human costs of National Party rule – more than 21,000 killed in political violence – the commission rejected De Klerk’s formulation and concluded that apartheid was indeed a crime against humanity.

In London in September, De Klerk was asked for his view on the involvement of Bell Pottinger public relations company, KPMG auditors and McKinsey consultants in schemes that looted the South African state treasury and undermined honest officials. Ever the lawyer, De Klerk replied: “It is too early to tell.”

KPMG and McKinsey played apology poker. Starting with a low bid, they opened with a general statement of regret to no one in particular, coupled with a few early retirements, a suspension here, a sacking there. When people such as ex-finance minister Pravin Gordhan started talking about legal action, the parent companies paid attention. Partners from New York and London flew to Johannesburg, conveying personal regrets to Gordhan and other top officials.

Threats to these companies are multiplying. There are direct financial ones. How much did McKinsey’s and KPMG’s actions cost the treasury? State utility Eskom is asking McKinsey to refund the R1bn ($73m) it earned from a contract in partnership with Trillian, owned by a Gupta associate, Salim Essa. The status of that contract, judged illegal by several independent lawyers, is being tested in court. KPMG, according to one of South Africa’s top economists, Iraj Abedian, could be held liable for the loss of “tens of billions” of dollars caused by its damage to institutions and investor confidence.

Despite their apologias, both companies refuse to admit wrongdoing or legal liability, and South Africans’ anger towards them grows. KPMG International has been slow to launch an internal investigation into why its local company produced a politically charged critique, now withdrawn, of an anti-tax evasion unit that was troubling the Gupta brothers and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.

Guptagate could presage stronger demands for corporate and political accountability. It exposes more clearly the mechanics of grand corruption. Successive media reports conjure an image of predator politicians dragging reluctant multinational companies into a web of illegal and mispriced contracts from which mega-profits are laundered through tax havens. But Guptagate points to a different dynamic. Here, the company is the predator seeking out compliant and greedy politicians with whom to do business. What has developed in South Africa is a high-tension battle between independent regulators and courts on one hand taking on a criminal business-political condominium on the other.

But before anyone gets too smug about McKinsey’s and KPMG’s discomfiture, the revival of 783 charges against President Zuma reminds us of the origins of the current wave of grand corruption. In the mid-1990s, Western governments such as Britain, France, Sweden and the US – resolutely backing their national arms manufacturers – sold South Africa’s new government some $6bn of weaponry. Much of it was irrelevant to the country’s strategic needs, and almost all of it was at inflated prices, pumped up by third-party commission agents.

Politicians such as Zuma are accused of cutting themselves into the deal; some diverted cash into the coffers of the ANC to fund election campaigns. In fact, it was similar to corruption under apartheid rule. Then, politicians took their cut from the mining conglomerates and laundered their profits overseas. The main difference today is that journalists can report it without having security restrictions slapped on them. Mistakes were made, indeed.

This article came from the November 2017 print edition of The Africa Report magazine

 

Most popular

  • Latest

  • Most read

News & Analysis

Politicians

Elections

Subscriptions Digital EditionSubscriptions PrintEdition

FRONTLINE

NEWS

POLITICS

HEALTH

SPORTS

BUSINESS

SOCIETY

TECHNOLOGY

COLUMNISTS

Music & Film

SOAPBOX

Newsletters

Keep up to date with the latest from our network :

subscribe2

Connect with us