'If you think it was bad, it was worse': CNN's Richard Quest slams Team SA over state capture

2020-01-26 11:16 - Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe
richard quest
Richard Quest (Photo: Supplied) ~ Supplied

Despite Finance Minister Tito Mboweni describing "many fruitful conversations" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, CNN business editor Richard Quest had harsh words for Team SA at the international gathering.

Speaking to SA radio personality, The Money Show's Bruce Whitfield, Quest said South Africa had "just not got the same profile" as previously.

"Brand SA have tried to put scarves around my neck on numerous occasions, they've tried to interest me in discussing things, but it has just not got the same profile as in previous years," he said.

A lack of fanfare might be due to economic reasons, he added, "but at the end of the day there's no point in coming here to say, 'Invest, invest, invest in me if you haven't got the policies worthy of it'."

Asked by Whitfield about a sense of Ramaphoria at Davos two years ago – whether it was "a little bit like having Nelson Mandela back again" – Quest cut him short.

Economy 'hijacked'

"That was two years ago," he said. "Since then we've discovered just how awful the state-owned capture of enterprises (sic) was.

"Now this is one of those few subjects where [Public Enterprises Minister] Pravin Gordhan says, 'If you think it was bad, I'm telling you it was worse'. Now you tell me anybody who, for the last five years, ten years, has come here and said 'South Africa's good, doing really well, we've got everything under control,' suddenly turns around and says, 'Well actually, our economy was hijacked by the way, and we're terribly sorry to tell you the losses are in the billions – well actually we really don't know, possibly it's trillions, oh and by the way, even if it was bad, it was worse, and we're not even sure we've dealt with it.'"

Quest also opined that there had been a failure to hold the culprits to account. "How many people have gone to prison so far?" he asked.  

The clip sparked fierce debate on Twitter, with some users arguing Quest was a credible critic of the consequences of state capture, and others arguing it was not fair comment.