The times they are a changin' as Ramaphosa starts to clean up

Cyril Ramaphosa (Leon Sadiki, Beeld)
Cyril Ramaphosa (Leon Sadiki, Beeld)

The euphoria around the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the ANC was palpable from East London all the way to Johannesburg as the party celebrated its 106th birthday.

ANC members and supporters who had shunned Jacob Zuma’s ANC went to dig deep in the closets to find their black, green and gold t-shirts. On social media they were emotional as they bid farewell to the “alien” Zuma’s ANC and celebrated the new. 

With Ramaphosa just three weeks into the job the tide is turning and fast. From starting the ANC celebrations on time to finally acting against the corrupt, we are really beginning to see some change.

In the ANC’s January 8 statement Ramaphosa signalled to the corrupt that the “security in comfort” afforded to them while Zuma was in charge is over. 

"Anti-corruption efforts within the state must be more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted," he said. 

It was followed by a dramatic week even by our own standards. But this time it was not the midnight statements announcing yet another inexplicable Cabinet reshuffle. 

It was the wheels of justice finally beginning to turn against corruption. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula called it a "revolution against corruption".

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are finally cracking the whip on the looters of state resources, starting with a preservation order against consulting firm McKinsey and the Gupta linked firm Trillian to recuperate the R1.6 billion they unlawfully made from Eskom. 

We also heard that the Asset Forfeiture Unite wants to seize at least R50 billion in 17 cases linked to state capture. 

As we were still marvelling at the spectacle of the NPA doing its job, Mbalula announced that disgraced former SAPS head of intelligence Richard Mdluli has left the service. 

The man has been on suspension for seven years, looking untouchable and smiling on pay day as we continued to pay him for doing nothing. 

Apart from facing criminal charges for kidnapping an ex-girlfriend’s lover he is also accused of misusing money from the police's slush fund to purchase luxury vehicles for his family members. 

For a moment it felt like we were living in a different country because in the past ten years corruption just had no consequence and instead those implicated were rewarded. 

"The NPA has started taking action… we want them to act with urgency, to increase the tempo of the actions that needs to be taken. Freezing of assets is an important part of this but we need much more," Ramaphosa said while addressing business leaders ahead of his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos. 

That action must be the NPA acting against politicians who opened the state coffers for looting at the expense of the poor. We must also see the commission of inquiry into state capture get underway within the terms of references recommended in the former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. 

But the most serious sign that a new ANC has arrived will be when its own politicians are behind bars, and that day is still some distance away.

- Mahlase is politics editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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