South Africa: Ramaphosa promises anti-corruption crackdown

By The Africa Report
Posted on Monday, 24 October 2022 11:22, updated on Thursday, 3 November 2022 18:14

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) at an election victory rally in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday vowed to implement many of the recommendations made by a panel leading a graft probe into the mismanagement of state funds under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

“The money that was stolen robbed our people of resources that should have led to the development of our country,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address as he detailed some of the investigation panel’s more than 350 recommendations.

“Corruption is a betrayal of our democracy and an assault on the institutions,” added Ramaphosa, who submitted his response to the recommendations to parliament on Saturday.

The head of state also promised that a “Public Procurement Bill”, which will address many of the commission’s recommendations, will be finalised by March 2023.

This bill seeks to review the ethical standards of procurement of state tenders, banning ministers and board members from being involved in procurement within state-owned enterprises and government departments.

South Africa’s pillaging and mismanagement of state-owned enterprises during former President Jacob Zuma’s nine years in office, when Ramaphosa was his deputy, has been dubbed “state capture”.

“The commission found that the appointment and removal of board members and senior executives in state-owned enterprises was one of the key causes of state capture,” Ramaphosa said.

Dollars in couches

The investigating panel, which was established in 2018, collected testimonies from more than 300 witnesses, including Ramaphosa, and established that more than 1,430 individuals and institutions were implicated.

Ramaphosa is himself embroiled in a scandal following an alleged robbery at one of his properties two years ago, where he allegedly hid millions of dollars in cash inside couches, for which former president Zuma called him “corrupt” on Saturday.

The scandal around Ramaphosa erupted in June after South Africa’s former national spy boss filed a complaint with the police claiming Ramaphosa bribed robbers into silence.

The scandal risks derailing Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term as ANC president as the party heads to hotly contested internal polls in December.

South Africa’s parliament in September appointed an independent panel to determine whether Ramaphosa should face impeachment over the alleged cover-up of the heist.

Corruption is a betrayal of our democracy and an assault on the institutions.”

The cost of corruption in South Africa in 2019 was estimated, according to Ramaphosa, to be around 500 billion rands, then an amount equivalent to about a tenth of the GDP of Africa’s most industrialised economy.

A special investigative unit that was appointed to expedite the recovery of “stolen funds” has since recovered 8.6 billion rands ($476 million), Ramaphosa disclosed during his address.

“There will be no place for the corrupt, criminal networks, and perpetrators of state capture to hide,” Ramaphosa said.

With AFP

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