Left to right: Seasoned Daily Maverick reporter Rebecca Davis and South Africa’s top investigative journalists Pauli van Wyk and Susan Comrie. (Photos: provided)
“We need real accountability. We need real disclosure. We need real transparency and we need reimbursement, ”said Susan Comrie, amaBhungane investigative reporter, during the Maverick Insider webinar.
Susan Comrie met with Scorpio investigative journalist, Pauli van Wyk and Daily Maverick welcome Rebecca Davis to the exclusive Maverick Insider event to unbox their behind-the-scenes work in the McKinsey-Transnet saga since 2017.
Comrie and Van Wyk’s investigative work formed much of the investigative journalism that revealed how well-known management consulting firm McKinsey allowed itself to be used as a Trojan horse by the Guptas.
The consulting firm has been used, by Gupta-linked Trillian and Regiments Capital, to hit billions from Eskom and Transnet. And around this saga of corruption are state-owned enterprises as well – like SARS.
“It’s very popular to portray government as the big bullies and big bad guys, and we don’t think about the role of the private sector and big business,” Van Wyk said.
Comrie agreed, saying “the regiments were the Trojan horse of the Guptas, Mckinsey was the Trojan horse that carried them all to the state enterprises and when they left the doors were smashed.”
The evening webinar coincided with the country’s transition between Stage 3 and Stage 4 of the load shedding – a telltale sign of the direct line between the behavior of private sector companies like McKinsey and Eskom’s problems.
The fruit of investigative journalists, whistleblowers and a willing public has become tangible, with McKinsey agreeing to repay 1.87 billion rand.
It seems that the era of accountability is looming.
But Comrie has provided a lead for companies that need to follow McKinsey’s lead, if real accountability is on the table:
“In terms of accountability, it’s a great first step that McKinsey has paid back the money, but there’s still a long way to go,” Comrie said. “There are a lot of businesses on my list that have to pay back the money.”
Still a long way to go indeed, agreed Van Wyk.
“We need people to go to jail, we need people to answer in court, we need more money to pay back, we need government policies to be tightened again,” Van Wyk said. .
The responsibility will not rest solely on the refund of the money, the two agreed.
“There’s the money and then there’s the accountability,” Comrie said. “They are two very different things.
“It’s good that they paid the costs, it keeps us from having to go to court… but there is still so much work to be done to get McKinsey accountable,” Comrie said.
South Africans still only have the McKinsey version of events of what happened that is not being publicized by the NPA or the Hawks, and that version of events has many holes in it, Comrie said.
“Whether it’s the Zondo Commission, the NPA or the USDOJ [United States Department of Justice], we really need it to force a lot of information into the public domain, ”she said.
As it stands, McKinsey is refunding the money for reputation reasons, Comrie said.
“It’s not as if someone has forced them to repay the money at this point, but it is certainly expected that with further investigation one will discover that there is a crime under their actions,” said Comrie.
When it comes to criminality, illegal behavior or illegality, it all hinges on intention and more evidence will have to come to light to show it, Van Wyk added.
“We still have limited access to the kind of millions of emails on the McKinsey service, confidential reports that McKinsey has produced internally… I think once we have access to that, or once the authorities will have access to it, we might get a very different picture than the one McKinsey released in the public domain, ”Comrie said.
According to Van Wyk and Comrie, what is needed is the kind of information that comes to the Zondo Commission.
While the commission has its flaws, the information that comes out of it is critical to such cases, the two said, noting that it was to the commission that McKinsey pledged to return the money.
“This first layer of the Zondo Commission really helped,” Van Wyk said. “This is the first step in a country that is rectifying itself, when the public fabric begins to understand what is going on.”
Maybe not obvious now, but this information released by the commission exposes international money laundering networks, said Comrie, who described the commission as a “mechanism” for information to flow.
“It exposes corruption in all directions, not just [the commission] look, because once you start breaking into the money laundering business networks, what you find is evidence of a whole bunch of different crimes, ”she said.
While the commission has long-term and cathartic value for the country, Van Wyk and Comrie said the NPA, as an important structure for accountability, still has a way to go. “We are sitting with 10 years of rot [from the Zuma-era] that we may think will certainly not be rectified in three years’ time, ”said Van Wyk. DM
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This notice was published: 2021-06-11 14:25:39