Following the leaked preliminary Public Protector report, which implicated banking giant Absa in the looting of state funds during the apartheid era, Former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, has weighed in with a warning that the matter should not be turned into an issue of race.
Speaking in Cape Town where she addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Monday, advocate Thuli said the investigation into Absa was turning into a racial issue but she reminded guests that the person who laid the complaint and asked for the investigation into alleged state looting during the Apartheid era was white.
By this, Thuli was seemingly referring to groups like the Black First Land First, who, according to her, turned the investigation into white capital looting the state.
The group recently reacted to the leaked report by aiming at “white media” inventing corruption stories about black people to try and “divert attention from the Absa billions”.
“I would like to appeal to the public that when we deal with this matter – let us not take sides. Let us just look at what really happened and if what happened was proper and deal with it appropriately.”Thuli said as she called for cool heads and insisted that all questions must be related to knowing what happened with the money.
“We need to look at it with cool heads and not allow it to be used to vilify people, it is not just [about the missing] money we should be concerned about, it’s also land.
“I am not saying there isn’t white monopoly capital. I am saying that the answer to white monopoly capital cannot just be two families advancing themselves with state resources. The answer to white monopoly capital is not people getting into public power for accumulation of wealth.”
When asked about her opinion on the timing of the Absa report that is widely seen as a backlash at the banks- who have been central in the issues driven around alleged state capture – Madonselareplied by saying: “I have a view on the timing. If it will be used for nefarious purposes – that is possible,”
The timing of the report’s release has brought into question whether Absa is being challenged over closing Gupta-linked accounts.
She, however, noted that her goal was “never to use the report for nefarious purposes”. She said the leaking of Public Protector reports had always, even in her time, been for nefarious purposes and she couldn’t understand why.
“In this case, we had promised Absa and the South African Reserve Bank to share the findings with them quietly before moving forward … How it ended up with other parties and how people now claim to have an electronic report I don’t understand.”
Meanwhile, the SA Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said there are a number of errors in the leaked preliminary report that recommends that Absa should pay back R2.25bn it received as part of an unlawful apartheid-era bailout.
Kganyago told Radio702 that the Sarb is going through the Public Protector’s interim report with their lawyers and that it has already sported a number of errors in the report.
Absa reported its regret at the leakage of the report before further submissions and finalisation, because in its current form, it perpetuates an incorrect view that Absa Bank was the beneficiary of undue SA Reserve Bank assistance.