Former finance minister Trevor Manuel has said that state capture was an endeavour to remove the controls enshrined in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Testifying at the Zondo inquiry into state capture on Thursday, Manuel said that when these controls were removed and reckless spending occurred, the poor were directly affected. “When we drafted the PFMA, there was a fundamental shift from the old norms. The focus was on outputs and responsibilities ... It requires people to act in the best interests of the public. That shift is fundamentally important,” he said. “When there is reckless spending, almost inevitably, people who are dependent on public services, the poor, are denied access. In the context of state capture, it is actually an endeavour to remove those kind of controls.”

Manuel began his testimony by outlining the importance of the president’s oath of office. “My understanding of our constitution is that it vests responsibility, executive authority, in the ...

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