As we start winding down 2020 (#Dezemba, is that you?), we’re looking back at the year that was. This week we’re doing a special edition of our regular Accountability Monitor. Over the past year, we watched the NPA’s clean-up campaign move into high gear. We also saw SA return to respecting international law, and a huge corruption-cleansing operation at Eskom.

Here are our top accountability moments of 2020:

  1. Dogged by years of political interference, the NPA under its new head Shamila Batohi bounced back with a bang in late 2020. Business Insider reported that over 100 government officials were arrested as part of a major government clean up in October and early November. Some of these arrests include:

 The eight people allegedly involved in the looting of R2 billion from VBS Mutual Bank.

 ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and ANC MP Bongani Bongo, separately.

Alleged briber and bribee: Bosasa boss Angelo Agrizzi and former ANC MP Vincent Smith.

Putting together a case against corruption is really tough. It can take years to investigate, and many skilled investigators have left the NPA in the last decade. So if the NPA thinks it has cases ready to go to court, that’s a hopeful sign for the organisation. It’s also significant that smaller fish like municipal officials are being arrested, too.

  1. After years of being soft on human rights abusers, in 2020 SA decided to stand in support of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This came after the US, under Donald Trump, decided in June this year to reject the ICC. SA under Cyril Ramaphosa was one of 67 countries to support the ICC, which prosecutes crimes against humanity like genocide. This is a welcome change given how, under Jacob Zuma, SA tried to leave the ICC. This followed the embarrassing incident when SA refused to arrest former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir – who was on the ICC’s wanted list – when he came to SA.
  2. Eskom is undergoing a major clean-up. A bribery case involving contractors at the Kusile power plant is currently in court, while over 5 000 employees were flagged for internal disciplinary action over a variety of allegations. It means that the SOE, which is bogged down by more than R400 billion in debt, is slowly cleaning house, and its newish CEO André de Ruyter has successfully navigated the politics of this fraught position.

This story was originally published in The Wrap here.

You can also have a look at our Accountability Monitor here.

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