UASA supports investigation and prosecution of corrupt Denel executives

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Trade union UASA, which has numerous Denel employees as members, has expressed support for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s recommendation that law enforcement agencies investigate former directors and executives that were once employed by the state-owned enterprise (SOE).

In the second State Capture Commission report released on Tuesday, Zondo recommends the criminalising of the abuse of state power with sentences of up to 20 years and/or fines of up to R200 million.

“South Africa’s SOEs need a serious overhaul. It has become nonsensical to keep these businesses afloat with taxpayers’ money while they fail to sustain their operations and employees due to corruption and mismanagement,” said UASA spokesperson Abigail Moyo. “It seems obvious that the state does not care one iota about these businesses or employees. SOEs need to start generating their own revenue and be sustainable or be privatised. It is for this reason that UASA wholeheartedly supports the investigation and prosecution of corrupt executives who enabled the capture of Denel.”

She said the revelations regarding former Denel chair Daniel Mantsha, who was appointed by former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown, and other members of the 2015 Denel board who played a critical role in helping to capture Denel for the Guptas, are “deeply disappointing and disheartening”.

UASA has been in a legal battle with Denel for almost two years over unpaid salaries to UASA members employed at the SOE. Since May 2020 its members employed by Denel have been receiving nothing or just a portion of their salaries, “forcing workers to live from hand to mouth although they were expected to report for duty every day.”

Moyo explained that these workers used up their savings to survive and are behind on their payments on bonds, cars, school fees for their children as well as other essential needs because Denel reneged on contractual compensation obligations.

UASA and other trade unions, including Solidarity, on several occasions made use of the Labour Court to force Denel to pay the outstanding salaries. The process of executing the court orders is still ongoing. Further legal action is expected on 10 February.

“As UASA awaits a court date to start yet another case against Denel on behalf of our members, we will continue to monitor and intervene in the legal battle against the company. Our members must be paid what is due to them,” Moyo concluded.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to act against those heavily implicated in state capture.

“Much of the wrong-doing evident during Jacob Zuma’s rule was conducted with the full knowledge and very often the participation of his ministers, deputies and premiers who served at the pleasure of the President. Their transgressions were also known to MPs, MPLs and councillors who are appointed by the ruling party, and this is where many questions lie, because little has changed today when it comes to corruption still underway at the behest of people who work for President Ramaphosa, who is also president of the ANC, the party most implicated in wrongdoing. Action against them can or should be swift, the question is why it is taking so long,” said OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.

“Implicated state officials should face rapid internal disciplinary procedures with a view to firing as many of these delinquents as possible, and placing their names on a list of those barred from all future government jobs,” Duvenage said. “We also advocate that law enforcement authorities should consider seizing the passports of the most implicated people. They must not be allowed to escape being held to account, as the Guptas did.”

OUTA welcomed the recommendation for a body to oversee SOE boards and executives. “We want to see SOEs take action against those who looted them. We want to see oversight bodies who have neglected their duties finally taking action,” OUTA stated.

“We want National Treasury to ensure that there are ample resources for law enforcement to clear up this mess. We expect to see this in Budget 2022. It is now up to our President and Cabinet to take action,” the organisation concluded.