'Get rid of the banana republic label, Mr President'

President Jacob Zuma needs to allay fears the country is fast becoming a “corruption-ridden banana republic”, union federation Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Friday.

“Allegations of corruption and the misuse of public funds are piling up,” Cosatu spokes Patrick Craven said in a statement.

“[W]hile we welcome the probes being made by ministers like Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, the president needs to allay fears that ... we are sinking into a corruption-ridden banana republic.”

Cosatu welcomed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendations for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to discipline national police chief General Bheki Cele for his role in two building leases.

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It also welcomed Madonsela’s recommendation for Zuma to take action against Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde for failing to cooperate with the investigation into the two building leases, as well as her role in ensuring the leases were signed off.

Hoping for a swift response
On Thursday Madonsela released her report Against the Rules Too on the lease of the Transnet Building in Durban.
The 10-year lease with property tycoon Roux Shabangu’s Roux Property Fund was worth R1.16-billion.

The report was released four months after an initial report into a R500-million lease, also with Roux Property Fund, for similar office space in Pretoria.

The Public Protector found the conduct of Cele, who gave the Department of Public Works authorisation for the two deals, improper, saying it amounted to unlawful conduct.

Madonsela said Mahlangu-Nkabinde had “failed to meet the requisite stewardship as was expected of her”.

Cosatu wanted to know why ministers accused of serious offences did not follow their conscience and resign while the charges were investigated, rather than wait until they were dismissed.

Craven said Cosatu had previously called on Zuma to either assure the country that reports of gross misuse of public funds by Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka were untrue, or dismiss him.

He said the union federation was still awaiting a response from Zuma on how State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele was unaware aware his wife Sheryl was involved in drug smuggling.

“We hope that he will now swiftly respond to these questions and to the Public Protector’s reports on the SAPS deals.”—Sapa

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