Oxfam SA welcomes the release of state capture report, calls on citizens to use it to reclaim their country

Oxfam South Africa welcomes the release of the State of the Capture Report by the Office of the Public Protector which sheds some light on the on-going irregularities and corruption involving senior government officials and private business people.

The report also makes damning findings about the relationship between the President Mr Jacob Zuma and his family friends the so-called Gupta family, and this family’s undue and improper influence in the appointment of ministers, cabinet members and the management of the state-owned enterprises.

Oxfam SA sees this report as a victory for the poor people of the country, victory against corruption at the highest level which has robbed the poor at the bottom, and victory for the rule of law.

The report further raises serious questions on the role of private individuals in setting the public policy agenda, and in the allocation of public resources. The report pointed to the fact that the actions of most of those implicated, including the President and some Ministers, were in contradiction with the oath of the offices they sit in, and an insult to the poor of this country.

South Africa remains the most unequal nation in the world. Poor governance and corruption remain prevalent in the public and private sectors despite recent improved efforts. As emphasised in our global report entitled ‘Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality’ , released in 2014, “in South Africa, inequality is greater today than at the end of Apartheid” and “two men own the same wealth as the bottom half of the population”.

Our report titled “Hidden Hunger” also says that 1 in 4 households in South Africa run out of money to buy food during any given month. It also points to the fact that unemployment, ‘poverty wages’ and the fact that middle-income earners are often under pressure to support large, extended networks of unemployed people, means that the experience of poverty is not necessarily linked to levels of unemployment.

Poverty and inequality are violations of human rights, and if left unchecked can cause instability and break downs in societal relations. Democracy can only work when citizens are able to ask critical questions and seek transparency and accountability from those in power. Inequality affects all aspects of a person’s life and life chances, from health to education and other social and economic needs. Citizens have the right to participate in matters that affect and concern their lives and needs.

“If left unchecked, political institutions become undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites to the detriment of ordinary people,” said Oxfam SA Executive Director, Sipho Mthathi.

“In one of our most recent report entitled “For Rich or Poor” Oxfam makes a strong link between the role of the elites and it’s their influence over matters of policy. When wealth captures government policy making, the rules bend to favour the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else”.

“The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all. Unless bold political solutions are instituted to curb the influence of wealth on politics, governments will work for the interests of the rich, while economic and political inequalities continue to rise,” Mthathi added.

Oxfam SA calls upon the governing party, all political parties represented in parliament and the executive to take the nation into its their confidence by ensuring that rule of law is upheld, including holding the State President accountable for his actions and inactions as highlighted in the Public Protector report. Parliament and other institutions in support of democracy should take firm action against any person (s) found to have violated the laws and the Constitution of the Republic.

Further we call upon citizens and civil society, including private sector to stand up and take action in the interest of just and good governance. The recent events cast doubts on the integrity and character of the Head of State and entire cabinet, and its our hope that they listen to the conscience and do the right thing for the sake of the future of the country.

We welcome this report as Oxfam SA and we will be monitoring its implementation. Oxfam SA also welcomes the remedial actions suggested by the Public Protector which, among others, require President Zuma to appoint a commission of inquiry headed a judge, within 30 days of the release of the report; and for the Public Protector to report to the relevant authorities, including the National Prosecuting Authority, on those matters of criminal nature identified in this report.

Oxfam South Africa contributes to just and equitable distribution of resources, wealth, and opportunities through advocating for more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development models and supporting sustainable livelihoods initiatives.

In our work we also support civil society to monitor, document and campaign to hold government and the private sector accountable to implement policies that enable economic justice and equitable distribution of South Africa’s resources, and fight corruption.

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