President Ramaphosa’s appeal to ANC leadership needs real action, not lip service

Let civil society play a bigger role in oversight and facilitation of processes to combat corruption.

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24/08/2020 12:13:43

President Ramaphosa’s appeal to ANC leadership needs real action, not lip service


OUTA is both impressed with and sceptical about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s letter to the ANC leadership on 23 August. His statement contains almost every aspect of accountability that civil society has longed to see take place, yet little has happened.

His position certainly breaks ranks from the narrative of “party before country” which has been espoused for too long by ANC leadership. However, we remain sceptical as we need to see this followed by real action which has too often been missing.

“Trust in government is at an all-time low, which means that many people won’t believe a word of the President’s letter. He will need to demonstrate that he is serious about his meaningful suggestions as proposed in tackling corruption,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO. Duvenage wrote an open letter to Ramaphosa which can be read here.

Now is the time for the President to show us how law enforcement will institute the often-promised lifestyle audits. The laws allow SARS to implement financial assessments of key individuals linked to state capture, so why wait for ANC cadres to agree to these?

Open tenders do not translate to transparency. “It is only when the public has oversight of the participants and details within the tenders, along with the allocations before the money is spent, that we can consider government procurement to be transparent. Civil society has called for this and now the President has indicated he is in favour of this taking place.  What is the ANC – or government for that matter – waiting for?” says Duvenage.

OUTA acknowledges the President’s work in tackling corruption since he came into power in February 2018. “The clean-up at SARS, the PIC and Eskom started in 2018 already, and it is encouraging to see that this has already in some instances translated into summonses to repay looted funds. Action at Transnet saw more than R1.7 billion recovered, and clean-up action is underway at various other state-owned enterprises like the SABC and SAA. But this is still far short of what must transpire,” says Duvenage.

Most encouraging of all are the changes we have seen at the NPA, with the appointment of Shamila Batohi as national director and  Hermione Cronjé as the head of the newly established investigating directorate within the NPA to prosecute state capture cases. “However, not enough has transpired in bringing the kingpins of state capture to book,” says Duvenage.

If South Africa is to meaningfully address corruption, then it needs to get on top of the cadre deployment and culture of impunity that permeates the ruling party. The actions spelt out in the President’s appeal to the ANC will all go a long way towards tackling corruption.

Last week the redeployment of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, who is implicated in corruption of R400m, to the KZN Legislature made international headlines. Her appointment is a slap in the face of society, and the ANC is to blame for this. OUTA urges President Ramaphosa to ensure that his letter to the ANC won’t be seen as yet another empty attempt to correct the ruling party’s conduct. “We have had many other strong statements about lifestyle audits and action against corrupt cadres, yet we still see ministers implicated in corruption and senior ANC officials like Zandile Gumede promoted instead of prosecuted,” says Duvenage.

In his open letter, Duvenage listed some of the people implicated in state capture and other instances of corruption. They are:   

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, currently the Chairperson of the Police Committee in the National Assembly.
Bongani Bongo, currently the Chairperson of the Home Affairs Committee in the National Assembly.
Faith Muthambi, now the Chairperson of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Committee in the National Assembly.
Mosebenzi Zwane, the current Chairperson of the Transport Committee in the National Assembly.
Cedric Frolick, the Chair of Portfolio Committee Chairpersons.

“When can we expect real action against these individuals who enabled the looting of South Africa’s fiscus?” asks Duvenage.

Duvenage adds that South Africans are watching with great interest how the ANC deals with the reinstatements of VBS leadership and Gumede, not to forget Malusi Gigaba, Des van Rooyen, Nomvula Mokonyane and others who fill senior leadership positions within the belly of the ANC at Luthuli House. OUTA would like to see more urgency in processing disciplinary actions against government officials implicated in wrongdoing, which often remain unresolved for months. OUTA will thus be watching the matter of presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko with interest.

“We urge President Ramaphosa to remove any obstacles in the way of law-enforcement agencies like NPA and SIU to ensure speedy action against those guilty of corruption. Give them more resources to speed up the investigations. Suspend officials implicated in corruption with immediate effect and allow the law to run its course without political or other interference,” says Duvenage.  

OUTA also calls on President Ramaphosa to open the door wider for civil society to play a bigger role in oversight and facilitation of processes that can be used by government in its drive for greater transparency and the fight against corruption. 

Picture: OUTA

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