South Africa Watch

South Africa’s #DairyCow mirror’s Brazil’s Operation Car Wash

Cow two.jpg

There are frightening similarities between Brazil’s Operation Car Wash corruption scandal, and events in South Africa’s which is fast becoming the #DairyCow scandal.

There are, however, also differences – some which are reason for deep concern, while others give hope for more positive, and faster results in South Africa.

There are also promising signs that South Africa’s criminal justice system, and other public structures, are receiving some focused attention for repairs in the fightback against the damage that has been done during the years when #DairyCow grazed freely on the farm called government pastures. However, one must be realistic and not expect miracles over-night.

Just think of all the expertise and years of accumulated institutional knowledge that were lost during those years. And, while South Africa’s fightback has barely begun, Brazil’s started in mid-2013 (the same year the Cupta-plane landed at the Waterkloof Airforce base), when a Brazilian federal police investigator picked up on suspicious bank transactions involving a former senior Petrobras manager.

 A dozen more investigators and prosecutors almost immediately joined the investigation that grew so big that Brazil’s attorney general, the equivalent of SA’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), set up a task force in special offices. Almost a year later, in March 2014 a federal judge began rounding up dozens of suspects.

Another year later, in April 2015, the first convictions were passed. The impeachment of a president – Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff – in 2016 would follow.

Now, five years later, the people of Brazil’s hope that Operation Car Wash will, in the words of Tim Padgett of Bloomberg, “be a crossroads for change,” remains unfulfilled. Details of the chain of corruption – also stretching across the globe to international corporations – is still emerging. Investigators, and prosecutors have yet to reach the bottom of their efforts.

South African trajectory

Although the first signs of the corruption network, that became known first as state capture, also surfaced in 2013 at Waterkloof, and despite a deluge of information since, including a Public Protector report, a special NPA investigative task team is only a few weeks old.

However, unlike in the case of Brazil, it also only took those few weeks before some action followed on the task team’s work with the announcement of the freezing of a bank account, and the seizing of assets surrounding the Estina dairy farm in the Free State.

Especially in the latter case, there is a link-back to the Waterkloof incident.

There are also hopeful signs that South Africa might experience a cleaner change of the guard at Government level as a negotiated exit strategy between President Jacob Zuma and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa seems to be in the cards.  

However, in the light of all the information that have already leaked into the public domain, it is clear that #DairyCow is not less complex, deep, and wide – including global connections – than is the case with Operation Car Wash.

One should not be surprised if, five years from now the cow is not totally dead and buried and something of the past.     

by Intelligence Bulletin Team

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