19 May 2017

South Africa: Statement - We Demand the Release of Apartheid-Era Secrets!

press release

R2K welcomes the release of Apartheid Guns and Money, an important book about the networks of corruption and profit of our apartheid past. The book is authored by R2K member and Open Secrets co-founder, Hennie Van Vuuren.

This book teaches important lessons about our past, and our present and future.

The need to release apartheid documents

Two decades into democracy, we still have yet to see the full release of apartheid era secrets - millions of documents from the apartheid regime are still held by departments across government and have yet to be released to the public. The resolutions of R2K's National Summits in 2016 and 2017 have both made the call for the release of all apartheid secret records.

We salute the work of the South African History Archive and Lawyers for Human Rights in accessing documents that were used for the research of this book, but Right2Know outrageous that several government bodies (the Department of Defence and the Reserve Bank) have forced SAHA to go to court for access to apartheid-era records.

Deepening the fight against corruption

Apartheid, Guns and Money is a vital reminder that today's crisis of corruption and state capture is rooted in history. The international banks, middlemen and lobbyists who facilitated corrupt deals and sanctions-busting under apartheid have stayed in business, and in many cases have played a role in corrupting our democratic politics today. Several of the companies and individuals implicated in the post-94 Arms Deal were secret trading partners of the apartheid military regime. This includes Thomson-CSF, which became Thales, the French arms company alleged to have bribed Jacob Zuma.

These historical acts of corruption do nothing to excuse the corrupt actions of today's dirty politicians and business people. We must demand that those who profited from apartheid's dirty deals answer for their actions, just as we must ensure that those currently implicated in state capture in the Zuma era are also brought to justice.

Secrecy breeds corruption

By lifting a veil of secrecy on the corruption of the past, Apartheid Guns and Money shows how corruption and secrecy go hand in glove.

This is a bitter lesson learned by ordinary South Africans in the post-94 era, whether through the secrecy of the corrupt Arms Deal and countless other scandals. This is why the people of South Africa must be vigilant against any attempt to close down public debate and transparency in our society, including through the still-pending Secrecy Bill. We must also continue to fight any attempt to sign a secret Nuclear Deal, which will only benefit foreign companies in countries like Russia, France, China and the US.

Way forward

At a recent R2K meeting to discuss the findings of Apartheid Guns and Money, Siphiwe Tofile from Marikana Informal Settlement said: "This book exposes a lot of things. It also shows that the current government is the same as the previous government in terms of corruption".

Jane Roberts, member of the Delft Joint Committee, said "We didn't know about all those things, and how it affects us. We need to educate people about what's in this book."

Levona Carstens, R2K activists in Mitchells Plein, said, "This is money that should be used to build houses for people across South Africa."

As R2K, we believe that the democratic government dismally failed the nation by letting apartheid corruptors go free, and in many cases following in their footsteps. The current crisis of secrecy, corruption and state capture embodied by Zuma and his cabal, are the results of this failure.

We demand the full release of the millions of apartheid documents buried in government archives - no more secrets!

We demand investigation and prosecution on apartheid-era and present-day corruption!

R2K salutes the research team of Open Secrets South Africa for their commitment in unearthing the truth. We are very proud to call them comrades! Ongazi Makazi!

*The book is available at Exclusive Books Online and Takealot.

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