Ramaphosa of South Africa says ANC should have done more to prevent corruption in the Zuma era
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday the ruling party “could and should have done more” to prevent corruption under his predecessor Jacob Zuma, in an eagerly awaited testimony from a transplant investigation.
Ramaphosa, Zuma’s former deputy, appeared in his capacity as the current chairman of the African National Congress (ANC), a rare case of a seated president presenting evidence of recent alleged wrongdoing by members of his own party.
The State Capture Inquiry examines allegations of transplantation during Zuma’s nine-year tenure, including the fact that Zuma allowed nearby businesspeople – Atul brothers, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to influence politics and win lucrative government contracts .
Zuma and the Guptas have repeatedly denied the allegations against them.
Ramaphosa told the investigation that it took the ANC some time to acknowledge high-level corruption during the period but that it would not try to “make excuses or defend the untenable”. He didn’t mention Zuma by name.
“We all recognize that the organization could and should have done more to prevent the abuse of power and misuse of resources that defined the era of state imprisonment,” he said.
Ramaphosa added that “corrosive corruption” had hurt support for the ANC among voters six months before the local elections, in which the party would seek to improve on its worst election results since apartheid ended. Continue reading
Opposition parties gathered outside the building where the investigation took place, and participants said Ramaphosa should personally bear some of the blame.
“Ramaphosa was an integral part of the decisions. He was the country’s vice president when the money went missing,” said William Madisha, a small party lawmaker with COPE. “The ANC has to pay back what belongs to the people.”
KEY TEST AHEAD
Ramaphosa, vice chairman of the ANC from 2012 to 2017 and vice president from 2014 to 2018, made the fight against transplant one of his calling cards.
After winning a hard-fought battle for ANC leadership against Zuma’s ex-wife in December 2017, his allies in the party expanded Zuma’s overthrow and allowed him to become head of state in February 2018, before Zuma’s second term of five years was because of the end.
He appeared cautious at the beginning of his presidency when a faction in the ANC remained loyal to Zuma but became increasingly assertive.
At a March meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee, its supporters enforced stricter disciplinary measures for members involved in corruption and other serious crimes.
An important test of these stricter rules will be whether General Secretary Ace Magashule, who is seen as a Zuma loyalist, leaves his post on corruption charges in the coming days. Magashule denies the charges, but in late March the party gave him and others charged with serious crimes 30 days to “stand aside”. Continue reading
Ramaphosa is expected to be asked for several days during the investigation what he knew about alleged corrupt practices while serving on Zuma’s side and why he did not act to stop them.
The investigation was initiated by Zuma in the last few weeks of his office. Zuma appeared shortly after in 2019, but defied a subpoena and court order to provide additional evidence earlier this year. The investigation’s lawyers are requesting that Zuma be arrested. Continue reading
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.