SCRUTINY: Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel wants lifestyle audits conducted on public figures. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Ebrahim Patel. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

MINISTER of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel has called for legislation to be passed to allow ministers’ bank accounts to be scrutinised in an attempt to crack down on corruption and state capture.

He was backed up by his cabinet colleague Blade Nzimande who said state capture by "parasites" threatened democracy.

Speaking during the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) congress at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday‚ Patel said it was important that government addressed "high levels of corruption in our ranks" and proposed lifestyle audits and regulation of party political funding as a means to do this.

He said if officials appeared to be driving fancy cars and going on expensive holidays‚ they should be asked‚ "my dear comrade‚ where did you get this money?"

He said the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica) should be passed so that banks "look carefully at the financial transactions of prominent public figures like cabinet ministers to make sure that Ebrahim Patel‚ and all of us‚ can properly account for every cent that lands in our bank account".

The Fica bill was passed by Parliament earlier this year but has yet to be signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.

The bill has however raised the ire of many‚ among them former cabinet spokesman Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi’s lobby group‚ the Progressive Professionals Forum‚ which views the bill as an invasion of privacy.

Manyi is a strong Zuma supporter and is rumoured to have been the Gupta family’s choice for DG of the Department of Mineral Resources.

Nzimande said that the looting of state owned companies had the potential to destroy democracy.

"We must defend institutions that are crucial to our democracy and our state owned companies are very important — Transnet‚ Eskom‚ many others‚ even including the SABC which is being run down by people who have no capacity to run the SABC‚" said Nzimande.

He said he was not referring to the workers at the state broadcaster‚ who were not "responsible for the mess up at the SABC".

He called those responsible for looting of state owned companies the "parasitic bourgeoisie" and warned "if we allow parasites to steal our state owned companies‚ our democracy is dead. Workers have to stand up and say‚ ‘No‚ our state owned companies are not for looting’."

He said people had asked why he stood up against the Guptas and not the Oppenheimers but said they had long been fighting against them.

"We don’t want white minority capital. Or minority capital even if it’s black. We will fight monopoly capital as we fight the Guptas as well."

Nzimande also expressed concern about factionalism within the ANC.

Lamenting the party’s loss of votes in urban areas‚ he cautioned that if it was not united when it goes to elect its leaders next year‚ "those who win will walk away with a shell of an organisation".

He said the party was in danger of losing the 2019 election if it did not address issues of factionalism. "This country cannot afford for the ANC to lose the 2019 election‚" he said.

TMG Digital/The Times