South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa to respond to government corruption

Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will make public his response to recommendations by a judicial panel following its probe into government corruption.

A 76-page document setting out how the government will respond is being published “shortly”, and Ramaphosa will address the nation on Sunday evening, the presidency said in a statement, without giving an exact time.

A commission of inquiry headed by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo spent four years probing graft during former President Jacob Zuma’s nine-year tenure, known as state capture.

It recommended the investigation of dozens of cabinet ministers, government officials and businessmen.

“The president’s response outlines the steps the government is taking to implement the commission’s recommendations concerning actions against the perpetrators of state capture and reforms to prevent future occurrence of state capture,” the presidency said.

The so-called Zondo Commission heard from hundreds of witnesses about how state departments and companies were looted of billions of rand by the former president’s allies, with his tacit consent.

During that time, Ramaphosa said that at least R500 billion was stolen from the state.

According to the testimony, the criminal justice system was also systemically hollowed out, with Zuma allies appointed to key posts, leaving it incapable of holding the perpetrators to account. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

Ramaphosa Criticism

Zondo was stinging in his criticism of Ramaphosa for failing to speak out about the plunder during the five years he served as Zuma’s deputy and of the governing African National Congress, which he said had done nothing to stamp out corruption within its ranks.

He found that several top officials, including Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa, took payments from companies seeking state contracts and recommended that prosecutors consider charging them.

Ramaphosa is expected to seek re-election as head of the ANC in December, limiting his scope to act against other heavyweights in the party whose support he may need to win the leadership race.

Mantashe and Kodwa, who are closely allied to the president, have both denied wrongdoing and said they would seek a judicial review of Zondo’s finding.

Ramaphosa will hold off on firing anyone until the legal challenges have run their course, his spokesman Vincent Magwenya told reporters last week.

While Ramaphosa remains the front-runner in the party-leadership race, his image has been tarnished by a scandal over the theft of foreign currency from his game farm in 2020.

Opposition parties have accused him of failing to properly report the crime and questioned whether he may have violated tax or foreign-exchange control rules.

Law-enforcement agencies are looking into the case, and parliament is waiting for a panel’s recommendation on whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa.


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