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Jonas: SA needs to ‘engage more’ with countries who received state capture cash

23 September 2018 - 11:29 By Karyn Maughan
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said state-owned enterprises were the perfect conduits for state capture.
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said state-owned enterprises were the perfect conduits for state capture.

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas says South Africa needs to engage more with the countries who allegedly received large amounts of state capture cash “around their role in advancing and deepening state capture in this country”.

Jonas was speaking at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation 10th anniversary gala dinner‚ where he interrogated the mechanics of state capture‚ and evaluated how state-owned enterprises were the perfect conduits for such corruption.

“State capture cannot succeed without externalisation of money‚” he said.

“In other words‚ without money leaving the country‚ there can be no state capture. Because‚ if you keep money under your mattress‚ we’ll find it.

“So in all countries where state capture has been effective‚ it has been effective precisely because there have been powerful instruments of externalising resources that are stolen.

“State-owned companies‚ all of them… they have service providers all over the world. That explains why Hong Kong‚ Dubai become crucial‚ and some countries that we embrace very well at the moment need to be engaged more around their role in advancing and deepening state capture in this country.”

China and Dubai have both emerged as powerful role players in alleged state capture at Trasnet and Eskom‚ and the National Prosecuting Authority is currently seeking information from the UAE about the transfer of millions allegedly linked to the Estina Dairy Project scam.

China South Rail scored a R25-billion locomotive deal with Transnet‚ with Gupta-linked shell companies allegedly scoring R5-billion in kickbacks from that deal.

“State-owned enterprises are very useful in that sense‚ because they make it easy to externalise resources‚ and that’s why the state capture project‚ almost 80% of it‚ focused on state-owned enterprises‚ the Transnets‚ the Eskoms etc‚” Jonas said on Saturday.

He added that SOEs were also effective conduits for state capture because of their governance practices.

“Every new minister can appoint a board whenever he or she feels like it‚ and for the longest of time there have been no clear guidelines about how this is done. So‚ in state-owned enterprises‚ once you appoint a pliable board‚ it will be at your service.”

While the boards of companies in the private sector typically saw their role as serving the interests of the companies‚ he said‚ the boards of SOEs would be focused on serving the shareholder - the minister.

“So if your have a mad shareholder‚ you are likely to have mad objectives. If you have a shareholder to advance state capture‚ you are likely to be doing exactly that.

“So part of the agenda should be about changing those things.”

Jonas‚ who testified at the Zondo Commission about how a Gupta brother had offered him R600-million to become finance minister and advance the family’s interests‚ will face cross-examination about that alleged bribe from former president Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane‚ and controversial arms deal advisor Fana Hlongwane in the coming weeks.

The Kathrada Foundation on Saturday honoured Jonas‚ former and current government communications heads Themba Maseko and Phumla Williams‚ former SARS Commissioner Ivan Pillay and Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride for their roles in opposing state capture.