Credibility will win you public trust

In his investigation report on the great VBS bank heist, advocate Terry Motau pointed to, among others, the ANC Limpopo provincial treasurer as the power behind the decision by many municipalities in that province to unduly invest in the now defunct mutual bank. The finding set off a series of repercussions, which have subsequently influenced political dynamics of the province. Following recommendations by the ANC's integrity committee, Danny Msiza stepped down from the party's leadership until earlier this year when a new move from some in the party's national executive committee pushed for his reinstatement. Msiza challenged the report in as far as it related to his alleged involvement. He argued, among others, that he was not given a fair opportunity by investigators to give his side of the story. Yesterday, the North Gauteng High Court agreed with him, setting aside the findings of the report in as far as the allegations against him. "The first respondent's [Motau] failure to afford the applicant the right to procedural fairness prior to the release of the report titled 'The Great Bank Heist' is unlawful and unconstitutional and violated the applicant's [Msiza] right in terms of section 34 of the constitution," the court ruled. There are two important points to make in light of this judgment. The first is that the court did not deal with the merits of the allegations against Msiza nor did it test the strength of the evidence against him. This court confined itself to procedural matters which were at the heart of Msiza's review application. This means, therefore, that as the public we are none the wiser about his alleged liability in the looting of the bank. The second is about the principles of procedural fairness that must be adhered to by those entrusted with doing investigative work where allegations of corruption are concerned. Ours is a country riddled with corruption at every sphere of government. Part of the responsibility of rebuilding public trust in anti-corruption entities is to ensure their work is credible, conducted without fear or favour and importantly, that it and can stand legal scrutiny. Compromising these principles significantly undermines the fight against corruption in SA.

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