A conference for the Future of South Africa was held on 18 July (Mandela Day) in Johannesburg. The organisers say 600 people from 130 civil society organisations attended.
The conference was convened by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Save South Africa campaign. The conference was held due to continuing and increasing concern around the alleged corruption of state institutions and in particular what has been termed, “ state capture” used to denote family, corporate interests not just influencing but “capturing” state resources so they are used for their benefit. In particular it is alleged the Gupta family which has close links to President Zuma have directly and indirectly influenced and benefited from government institutions and policy. These allegations are denied.
The use of PR firms by companies with strong connections to the Gupta family has become highly controversial with accusations that the campaigns these companies have engaged in to deflect attention from the allegations of state capture not only targeted individuals but sought to provoke racial tensions. Bell Pottinger set up an independent enquiry into its work. After receiving an interim report it dismissed a senior partner, suspended several other staff and issued a full, unequivocal and absolute apology to anyone impacted saying, “These activities should never have been undertaken. We are deeply sorry that this happened.” Bell Pottinger has been reported to the PR regulatory body. Bell Pottinger’s apology has been called insufficient and they have been requested to make public all communications they sent or received in connection with the PR work they undertook. Criticism has also been levelled at McKinsey who have suspended their South African director.
A vote of no-confidence in President Zuma is scheduled for a parliamentary vote on 8 August. It has been requested that this be a secret ballot. The president is elected by secret ballot by parliament. The constitutional court has ruled the Speaker can decide to hold a secret ballot. A national day of pray against state capture has been called for and it is likely there will be demonstrations in the run up to the no-confidence vote. The ANC currently holds 62% of the parliamentary seats.