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HomeNewsRamaphosa tackles SOE corruption in newsletter amid his own woes

Ramaphosa tackles SOE corruption in newsletter amid his own woes

Ramaphosa tackles SOE corruption in newsletter amid his own woes

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest newsletter, released weekly on a Monday morning, has, not surprisingly, ignored his own battles and rather shifted focus onto something else.

Ramaphosa has been facing extreme backlash following the release of the report by the Section 89 Independent Panel chaired by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, which found there were grounds for a case of impeachment to be made against the president.

Ramaphosa’s fate hangs in the balance while he dominated the news this weekend. However, in his latest newsletter, Ramaphosa shifted focus to corruption at Eskom.

In his newsletter, titled “The Fight to Recover Ill-Gotten Gains is Gathering Steam”, Ramaphosa refers to the announcement by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last week that it had reached a settlement with an international company implicated in corruption at Eskom.

He describes this as a huge development in the country’s effort to hold those responsible for state capture to account.

The NPA Investigating Directorate finalised a landmark agreement with Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd to pay R2.5 billion in punitive reparations to South Africa. This is in connection with bribes allegedly paid to obtain contracts with Eskom between 2014 and 2017.

“Many of those involved in state capture and their enablers in the private sector saw nothing wrong with diverting public funds to private pockets. At the height of the state capture era, unscrupulous politicians re-purposed state institutions for private enrichment and to cover their tracks,” Ramaphosa wrote.

“Today, we have law enforcement authorities and a prosecuting authority devoted to investigating and prosecuting without fear or favour. We have state institutions committed to fulfilling their respective mandates regardless of the status or influence of any individual or a company.

“As a society, we need to give these agencies and the people working in them our full support and encouragement. We need to guard against any efforts to weaken these institutions or undermine their resolve,” he said.

He called on the nation to continue to work together to rebuild the supporting architecture to investigate and prosecute serious corruption and other crimes.

“I have always said that the fight against corruption will not be won easily or quickly, given how many years it took for patronage and graft to become entrenched.

“Now that we see that progress is being made, we must do everything we can to ensure that this work continues unhindered and that none of the gains we have made are reversed,” Ramaphosa wrote.

The president has been facing intense heat following the release of the report into what transpired at his Phala Phala farm, which has since been dubbed “Farmgate”.

The Independent Section 89 Panel found that Ramaphosa violated his oath of office in handling the break-in and theft of a huge amount of money in US dollars at his Phala Phala game farm. The panel found that Ramaphosa had committed serious violations and that there was prima facie evidence against him.

However, in his weekly “From the President’s Desk” newsletter, Ramaphosa completely turned a blind eye in addressing South Africans on the latest developments.

Instead, Ramaphosa went further into the steps taken by his government to deal with state capture-related cases.

He said that one of the most important steps the government took was to establish, in 2019, the Investigating Directorate in the NPA to deal with cases emanating from the state capture commission and other corruption-related offences.

“We recently announced plans to make the Investigating Directorate a permanent structure. We are now seeing the results of this work. The fight against state capture and corruption is gaining momentum,” he said.

Ramaphosa focused on the several cases that have been brought to court in the last few months, with former executives of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like Eskom and Transnet charged alongside business people for allegedly colluding to steal public funds.

He told South Africans that in addition to the arrests of those implicated in wrongdoing and bringing the cases to court, progress is being made in other areas as well where there has been malfeasance.

For example, he said, work is continuing at Eskom to recover money from irregular and corrupt contracts, recover overpayments and bill contractors for project over-runs.

The Special Investigating Unit continues with its investigations into corruption and mismanagement at state institutions and SOEs, with its Special Tribunal empowered to recover stolen funds.

The South African Revenue Service continues to fight corruption through lifestyle audits and other legislative tools. It is piloting a new unexplained wealth initiative to recover assets suspected of having been acquired illegally or through the proceeds of crime.

The NPA, through the Investigating Directorate, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and other structures, is successfully using preservation orders, asset forfeiture and other tools to tighten the noose around those involved in corrupt activities.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa was recused from attending the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) meeting as they discussed the panel’s report.

The Star reported that Ramaphosa appeared a bit stressed, looking at is body language, but he shared a joke or two with the media before giving them an interview.

kailene.pillay@inl.co.za

Current Affairs

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