South Africa

Ramaphosa promises corruption clampdown – while implicated politicians walk free  

Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa touted his administration’s anti-corruption efforts in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) but failed to mention that many of the people implicated in the Zondo Commission still hold positions of power in his cabinet.

In his 2024 SONA on 8 February, the President claimed that his administration’s first priority when taking office was to “put a decisive stop to state capture, to dismantle the criminal networks within the state and to ensure that perpetrators faced justice”.

“One of the overriding challenges this administration had to deal with when it took office was state capture and corruption,” he said.

“We had to do that so that we could restore our institutions and rebuild our economy.”

“We appointed capable people with integrity to head our law enforcement agencies, government departments, security services and state companies, often through independent and transparent processes.”

He used the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as an example of a state institution that had its credibility and efficiency restored and its performance improved.

“Great progress has been made in bringing those responsible for state capture to justice. More than 200 accused persons are being prosecuted. More are under investigation,” he said.

In addition, he said stolen funds are being recovered.

“We will not stop until every person responsible for corruption is held to account. We will not stop until all stolen money has been recovered,” the President said.

“We will not stop until corruption is history.”

Minister of Mineral Resources and ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe

However, Daily Investor found that numerous top politicians and ministers implicated in the Zondo Commission’s inquiry into state capture remain in powerful positions.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, better known as the Zondo Commission, ran from August 2018 until August 2021.

Hearings took place for over 400 days, with over 300 witness testimonies and 1,438 entities sharing their information.

The Commission revealed staggering levels of corruption, maladministration, lobbying, and kickbacks at state institutions.

Many state-owned companies were involved in state capture, including Transnet, Eskom, Denel, the SABC, South African Airways, and SARS.

Many of the politicians implicated in the commission still hold positions of power – many in the President’s cabinet.

For example, former ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was accused of receiving security installations at his three houses for no charge from Bosasa.

In his report, Zondo recommended that Mantashe should be probed for corruption.

However, Mantashe now serves as the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa and the chairman of the ANC.

There are many such examples, including Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture Zizi Kodwa,  MP and transport committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane and Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC Nomvula Mokonyane.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

Zondo himself has admitted that his report has had little to no consequences on state capture in South Africa.

Last year, Zondo said many connected individuals engaged in large-scale corruption during the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, showing they knew nothing would be done.

He said he found it strange that while the commission was investigating corruption, people engaged in large-scale corruption involving PPEs during Covid.

He said even though the commission was uncovering extensive corruption involving the state, the connected people did not care.

“One would have thought people who engage in corruption would have been frightened and deterred from these criminal activities,” he said.

“They knew something I did not know at the time – the commission could hear evidence and make recommendations, but nothing will be done.”

He highlighted that the President promised last year that he would initially focus on ministers and deputy ministers implicated in state capture.

He said Ramaphosa has not announced to the country that he has done so in terms of the people serving in his cabinet.


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