Jonas: All institutions in SA are under threat

As the space for looting narrows, the pace is increasing.
The current reality is that those involved in state capture are growing more desperate and their actions are becoming more urgent, Gordhan says. Picture: Supplied

Amid growing concerns that National Treasury and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) are being targeted by the agents of state capture, former deputy minister of finance, Mcebesi Jonas, has warned that South Africans cannot presume that any institution is safe.

“All institutions in South Africa are under threat,” he told the Morningstar Investment Conference in Cape Town on Thursday. “Until recently we have been saying that Treasury is on the right track, the Reserve Bank is on the right track, and Stats SA and the electoral commission are on the right track, but that’s not static. We must defend all institutions, even those we think are not captured, because when does the process of capture begin, and when does it end?”

Jonas shared the stage with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who once again called on South Africans to be vigilant.

“What we have at the moment is a group of people who are willing to do anything in order to loot from the state,” said Gordhan. “And they don’t care about the consequences as long as they can accumulate what they want.”

He added that the current reality is that those involved in state capture are growing more desperate and their actions are becoming more urgent.

“The space for these guys is narrowing,” Gordhan said, “therefore the pace of looting is increasing. That’s what we should be worried about.”

Gordhan insisted that this is an issue that the whole country has to be prepared to fight against.

“This is not a question that just involves the ANC, or the government,” Gordhan said. “It involves the people of this country. All of you who are citizens of South Africa have an interest, not just from a professional point of view, but from a personal point of view – to understand this phenomenon, diagnose the problem correctly, and become actively involved in defending institutions and participating in processes that ensure that the right things happen.”

State pensions

Jonas pointed out that there is a clear pattern to how institutions are captured, and this is what must be watched at the PIC.

“The pattern is a simple one,” he said. “You remove management, and put in compliant management. You remove boards, and put in boards that are compliant. The rest is very easy. That has been the scenario at state-owned enterprises.”

The recent focus on the PIC’s CEO, Dan Matjila, and attempts to remove him should therefore not be taken lightly.

Gordhan did however commend the trade union movement for getting involved very quickly. This has played a role in keeping Treasury’s actions in check so far.

“It will remain safe as long as we remain alert,” Gordhan contended. “But under the surface there is a lot going on. Every single statement issued and every step taken by Mr Gigaba and company has to be watched very carefully.”


Both Jonas and Gordhan emphasised how important it is for the country that the ANC’s national conference in December elects credible leaders.

“The importance of December is that if it goes in the right direction you will rebuild confidence in the country and the economy,” said Jonas. “For me that is probably the first step. Quite frankly, when the state loses credibility, nobody will want to engage in a meaningful way.”

Gordhan however insisted that the ‘right’ outcome in December and beyond is not simply going to happen. It has to be fought for.

“Nothing is going to be given to a platter on right thinking people to do the right things in South Africa – you have to struggle for it,” he said. “There has to be a contest. There has to be resilience so that people and ideas that are truly aligned to the national interest win at the end of the day.”

This necessarily means tackling corruption, but it also involves re-awakening the economy by building a new national consensus that unites South Africans around a single agenda that leads to inclusive growth.

For Gordhan, this can only begin with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in two month’s time.

“The Ramaphosa team must take over in December at the ANC conference and in January they must tell Mr Zuma to go live in Nkandla,” Gordhan said. “And then they must be decisive about the kinds of things we are talking about so that we are not waiting for four years before we bring about changes. They must utilise the foundation we have and realise the potential South Africa has as a country.”



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sadly 70% of the people ( mainly ANC supporters ) doesn’t understand this phenomenon. They still see the colonialists as the threat. What differentiate us from Zim and other failed states ( from a governance point of view SA is totally in sy moer ) at the moment, are institutions the function. Yes these institutions are under immense pressure.

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965 , it was a typical Third World country. Its per capita income of $500 was the same as Ghana’s then. Today its per capita income is USD55,000 , the largest increase any newly independent nation has enjoyed. Singaporeans now have the highest home ownership of any country in the world, with 90% of residents living in homes they own. So why did Singapore succeed so spectacularly? Exceptional leadership! Their leadership team implemented three policies: (1) Meritocracy, (2) Pragmatism and (3) Honesty. (1) Meritocracy means a country picks its best citizens, not the relatives and friends of the ruling elite, to run a country. No cadre deployment. (2) Pragmatism means that a country does not try to reinvent the wheel. (3) “Honesty” is the hardest thing to do because corruption is the single biggest reason why most Third World countries have failed. The greatest strength of Singapore’s founding fathers was that they were ruthlessly honest. We don’t even tick 2 of the 3 boxes in SA.

The only way to make the “people” understand is to bankrupt the government by taxpayers refusing to pay tax as long as Zuma is president. This can only happen if big business participates. If there is no money to pay pensions and civil servants salaries they will very quickly understand what the problem is.

Indeed, the “people” must be made to understand. Albeit only if “we” were smart enough to understand what the problem is, which sadly “we” don’t.
I, being neither ‘we” or the “people”, assert that the issue is with the institutions that are not independent enough (be it by law or competence) to functional accordingly. Hence I fault neither “we/us” or the “people”.

This would work only if those who truly need financial support i.e. people receiving grants (child grants excluded, or granted under exceptional circumstances) and state old age pensions are paid. Would be happy if state employees above a particular pay grade got absolutely nothing because they are sycophants to the looters

Hands up all those who think that SARS is not captured.

Hands up all those who think that SARS is not captured.

other problem for the old Treasury Twins are that the ANC has also been captured, and now corrupted to the bone. To appoint a new CEO to Luthuli house, will not change the stigma. If credible they will walk away, if Cyril and all the outspoken has any credibility he will walk away from the ANC, those who stay, to “safe the ANC”,…ANC not going to change as in Gordhan own words

“It has to be fought for – you have to struggle for it” true socialist “Che” slogans….the rest is history.

End of comments.




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