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Rebuilding trust in key government institutions

It’s an ongoing battle, but failure is not an option, say heads of Sars and NPA.
More than half of those surveyed worry that leaders in government and business deliberately try to mislead them. Image: Moneyweb

The South African public has lost faith in its government and important institutions that govern their lives. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that just 27% of South Africans trust government, with only Nigeria being more distrusted than all 28 countries included in the survey.

Two key institutions that were hollowed out because of state capture include the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Ethics Institute of SA invited the leaders of these institutions to share some of the progress they have made to restore trust and credibility to their organisations.

Read: Of mice and men, and what the state capture inquiry tells us

NPA national director Shamila Batohi says at the time of her appointment the NPA was like a “house on fire”. Factionalism was rife with a clear divide between those who supported state capture and those who did not.

The authority has made good progress in getting people who it can trust appointed in key positions. However, there are still people who Batohi has “concerns” and “reservations” about.

The relationship with the South African Police Service remains challenging.

“We need people we can trust, and not just trust that they will do what we want them to do, but trust [them] to be objective and to look at the evidence and not have agendas. There is still a lot work that needs to be done.”

The noise will increase

She says the NPA is building cases against those who “almost brought the country to its knees”. It has to get it right.

Batohi says there is going to be a lot of noise when people feel the heat and start attacking her and her organisation.

“We close our ears to that and we stay the course. We make sure that nothing distracts us from what we need to do in terms of rebuilding the organisation. As a citizen of this country, and like everyone out there, I am appalled by what has happened. We want to make sure there is accountability for this. But we have to get it right.”

She referred to several case that have already made their way to court.

People who never believed they would see the inside of a courtroom are now sleeping less peacefully.

This includes the VBS Mutual Bank scandal where around 14 people have been accused of driving the bank into insolvency, the R255 million Free State asbestos case involving suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, and the Estina dairy farm project that has been linked to state capture by the Gupta family and their government sidekicks.

Batohi says she is “as anxious as the public” to make sure that people are brought to book. “Failure is not an option,” she says.

Cleaning house

Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter says the revenue service currently has 300 active investigations against employees who are in different stages of the disciplinary process.

In the last two years Sars has had more than 60 resignations or dismissals after the spotlight was placed on individuals.

There have also been several criminal convictions of employees as well as taxpayers and tax practitioners who have been in “collusive and corrupt” relationships.

Kieswetter says it pains him when political leaders do not speak out decisively against corruption. It creates doubt and further creates an environment for corruption to thrive in.

“Leaders must be clear where they stand and act decisively when part of their own do not honour the levels of professionalism and integrity required … I am sometimes surprised when people are so patient with incompetence and corruption in the system of government as well as in civil and private society.”

No silver bullet

Of the participants in the Edelman Trust Barometer survey, 57% said they worry that their government leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

Business leaders are not doing much better, with 56% of the participants worrying that these leaders are also purposely trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

Read:

Kieswetter says there is no single silver bullet that is going to address the distrust and loss of credibility in key institutions, but South Africans must create a “coalition of like-minded people” who believe in the common good and common cause.

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There is no trust to rebuilt, we never trusted the government right from the beginning. And we trust them even less now.

Failure is not an option –mmmmm It is a REALITY !!!!!

Are we at all surprised, because the government is in bed with both the bankers and the business people.

It only takes one drop of manure to spoil the champagne, with world leaders and global watch bodies beating the environmental pollution drum, all this a smoke screen because unfortunately we will not be able to be carbon neutral in the next 400 years let alone by 2050.

As we have seen in South Africa, the governing party believes Land Expropriation is the most important priority whilst when Ipsos did the survey they found that it only just scraped in at number 96… The most important priority being Job Availability.

Me thinks the next big global recession is taken place, bigger than that of the 1930. Don’t look for prophecies, nor the mainstream media rather look at the facts. We have a global leader who is hell bent on keeping its power at all costs whilst another is growing be it more evil, this transition or fight can only result in the demolition of the old and allow for a global reset.

As citizens we have failed each other and given too much power to those who have been elected, its too late to take it back but we will put up a fight…

I don’t think your opening paragraph is correct for SA as the ANC regime’s “leaders” are only in bed with themselves; it is them only (didn’t struggle to be poor).For the world, maybe but, as Sensei will sometimes note, the first world never had it so good. Even the third world has improved.

But there is certainly room for improvement, quite a bit in the first world, very much in the third with probably most third world countries like SA, doomed to deteriorate (check out the declining per capita GDP).

@Paul,
So the State Capture Enquiry is about the anc being in bed with itself… I am not saying for 1 minute all business and banks are but rather only a few bad actors are guilty and that is cleary which is on display.

Completely agree, compared to 100 years ago we are truly living in easier times. With our new found knowledge and medium to transfer information we as humanity have grown up quite a bit yet our leaders / elected are as power greedy as they have ever been.

Unfortunately, the our lessor knowledgeable citizens have not learned lessons from history well enough and are they are bound to repeat them unless we as citizens we take a more pro-active role in ensuring that the right policies are created and supported.

With the ANC in charge their cannot be any rebuilding of trust in any government institution. Especially when they are so broken.

Just a reminder, Humpty Dumpty had a fall….

Neither SARS nor the NPA have the will or the leadership to change anything.They do not understand what excellence is, why it is important and what it represents.
SARS has deteriorated under Kieswetter – he is part of the problem.
The NPA and Dept Justice has collapsed.The Master’s Office – offline for weeks, files dissapearing,massive backlogs,3 day work weeks with no remedy or discipline in sight.
Excellence is not part of their culture.Cultures do not change.

I beg to differ slightly. SARS went through a dip when JZ stooge Tim M took over and key personnel left. They are re-building. Their IT systems are still world class.

Treasury stood firm and remain untrained with regards to state capture.

The other departments are well…

You obviously do not live in SA.

IT systems world class???? What world, the bottom part of the third world? You obviously don’t work much on e-filing!! You have to try various browsers to get forms printed and even then you can end up not finding one that will open the pdf form. While you are typing in the form it times out (objection forms). It is one of the worst systems I have worked on – not user friendly at all. The only positive thing that can be said is that it is better than manual filing of returns. As for their admin and their rediculous, illogical, inconsistent requirements when there is human intervention required … I even had them reject a letter signed by a representative that I sent by e-mail and cc’d the representative because I needed to have a power of attorney form signed. That is the equivalent of requiring the post office to have a power of attorney form signed for delivering a letter.

This Pollyanna optimism indicates a complete misunderstanding what the public alleged service has become since 1994. When the public alleged servants parrot their “Batho Pele” (people first) slogan, the people they are referring to, are themselves. Their agenda is indeed to put themselves first, and is simple: to get the biggest possible salary for the fewest possible inputs. So when Home Affairs says “the system is down”, what they really mean is “I have worked enough this month.”

In higher levels of the public alleged service, Batho Pele also extends to rent seeking behaviour, again to put the public alleged servant first. If a public alleged servant is in a position to gain, ahem, favours due to his position, you can bet that he will put himself first and extract rents in the forms of bribes or corrupt tenders to him and his family members.

To deny this, is to deny the truism that culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Not in my lifetime will I ever trust a South African government.

You may think you can start fresh if you think all the ANC’s are out but I have little faith in politicians.

Terrorists know nothing about building but all about destruction !!!

“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”
Frederic Bastiat, The Law

This morning I saw Moneyweb remove an article about Coronation’s behaviour while I was reading it. So when I wanted to show a friend, it was no longer there.

Is Moneyweb really giving in to pressure from investment houses?

That’s not journalism.

Jip — I even commented that any profit for the investor is purely coincidental !! –Sad because the report was accurate !!!!

Yes, they also remove my comments when it does not conform with the ruling narrative.

hahahaha.What a sick ANC joke. Try dealing for official and business reasons with the Masters Office in Durban and PMB, any municipality, any court , Dept of Home Affairs (special joke), licensing departments ,transnet ,Eskom. It is a joke .The govt officials do not want to work and close the departments will nilly for nothing. Post office. All destroyed by the corrupt ANC.Entitlement home of the delusional free loading parasites.

There was never trust in the regime maybe for delusional afronationalists

TRUST DOES NOT EXIST.

Hence… this economy will never grow. Never!

Every man for himself.

ANC stole from the people… they may have pulled the wool over their voter base….

BUT the intelligent ones cannot be fooled.

I’ll believe it when I see it … and as they say, a cheque is just worthless paper until it’s cashed.

End of comments.

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