‘R339bn lost in apartheid years’

A report on large-scale alleged corruption committed between 1976 and 1994 under the apartheid government is being considered by South Africa’s national anticorruption forum with a view to a kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission for corruption.

The forum has received a sensational document containing examples of alleged corruption during that period which was never criminally investigated.

Rather than providing new evidence it chronicles issues which it suggests should be investigated because they have, until now, been swept under the carpet or not properly dealt with. Hundreds of billions of rand are allegedly involved.

The forum, which consists of representatives of the state, civil society and businessmen, is under the chairmanship of Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, minister for public service and administration.

Die Burger is in possession of the report, which was handed to Fraser-Moleketi last week. It was written by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and approved by a number of civil society organisations.

The document is being distributed among various interest groups as a discussion document. It recommends that a number of people, bodies and events be investigated by the country’s law enforcement authorities for alleged corruption committed in the 18 years concerned.

These include the Broederbond, the governments of former presidents PW Botha and FW de Klerk, and the South African Reserve Bank.

Governors of the Reserve Bank

Other people named in the report are Dr Wouter Basson, superspy Craig Williamson, former ministers Pik Botha, Connie Mulder and Magnus Malan, and the two previous governors of the Reserve Bank, Drs Gerhard de Kock and Chris Stals.

The report is divided into seven focus areas: arms purchases and covert defence financing, the activities of the previous defence force, activities by the Broederbond, corruption by the executive authority of the “white state” as well as the former homelands, foreign exchange control fraud, oil purchases by the state, and the circumvention of sanctions against South Africa.

The report comes to staggering conclusions about the amount of money possibly lost by the country because of large-scale corruption under apartheid. Secret funds alone are alleged to have cost the country about R339,19bn between 1978 and 1994. That is nearly as much as South Africa’s total budget for this year.

According to the report, little attention has been paid since 1994 to large-scale corruption committed under apartheid and the public perception that the present government is more corrupt than the apartheid regime is unfounded.

Elite of the apartheid era

“The questions posed throughout the report are questions that have not been answered by the TRC or any other organ of the democratically elected government. This raises the question why there has, as yet, been no successful, dedicated prosecution of crimes of corruption involving the elite of the apartheid era,” says the report.

“The legacy of such a corrupt system did not disappear into the night when the white flag was lowered in 1994 and the new South African flag was hoisted. Rather, it had deepened to such an extent that it would necessarily serve to corrupt the new order.”

The report forms the basis for further investigations and admits that it has touched only the tip of the “corruption iceberg”. The anticorruption forum is expected to make its decision known about the report early next year.

Here is the FW de Klerk Foundation’s respose to questions on apartheid-era corruption.

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