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: