Justice minister says politicians not the only ones to blame for state capture
State capture was not a result of politicians alone and therefore the private sector must jump in to help rebuild the country, justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola says.
Lamola addressed a function marking the first anniversary of the Pan African Bar Association and Friday and explained that evidence heard at the various commissions of inquiry showed a role played by, among others, consultancy firms and lawyers in state capture, which eroded the government and saw vast amounts of money diverted from state coffers.
There is yet to be a successful prosecution of anyone for state capture, which refers broadly to the period of the Jacob Zuma administration from 2009-2018 during which grand-scale looting of the state took place.
Lamola told the members of SA’s newest bar association that SA was in a near-collapsed state “because of the invisible hand of many of the professionals, not only legal practitioners, but accountants, engineers and everyone”. He said he believed that if it was not for the “most sophisticated hand of the professionals” state capture would not have happened.
Lamola said, based on evidence before the commission of inquiry into state capture, it was clear that politicians could not have done it on their own.
All South Africans had a role to play in ensuring that it never happened again, because if it did, it would not only be the government or state-owned enterprises such as SAA which would collapse, but “all of us are going to collapse”, he said.
“There will be nowhere where you are going to receive an instruction, there will be nowhere where accountants are going to practice. There will be nowhere where entrepreneurs are going to ply their trade. We all have a collective responsibility to guard the national fiscus with our lives,” Lamola said.
Various countries have failed because good people did not act, he said.
“If the country was collapsed by professionals, by politicians, accountants, engineers, lawyers, the country can also be built by politicians, engineers lawyers and everyone,” Lamola said.
He said the executive had already made some sacrifices, but that they expected that society as a whole should be prepared to do the same. “All of us will have to tighten our belts.”