Politicians' friends, family doing business with the state undermines public confidence - Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned those profiteering from corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said the government would also deal with entrenched patronage networks. 
  • He added that multi-disciplinary units need to be established to deal with corruption.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said while not all business between the state and the family members or friends of politicians was corrupt, it undermined public confidence and created a perception of nepotism and abuse. 

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa again made corruption his focus, saying profiteering during a state of disaster was a heinous crime. 

"Attempting to profit from a disaster that is claiming the lives of our people every day is the action of scavengers. It is like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey."

READ | Classic whataboutism fierce ANC NEC finger pointing after call for Motlanthe to probe corruption

The president added that the issue was a real problem.  

"While everyone in South Africa has a right to engage in business activities, we are faced with the real problem of families and friends of political office-bearers or public servants receiving contracts from the state. Not all conduct of this sort is necessarily criminal, but it does contribute to a perception and a culture of nepotism, favouritism and abuse.

"And it undermines public confidence in the integrity of our institutions and processes. We are determined to finally deal with the entrenched patronage networks that enable government employees to bid for state contracts through their friends and relatives. This requires not only better laws and stronger enforcement, but also political will and social mobilisation," Ramaphosa said. 

Adriaan Basson | Let's not pretend to be surprised by the ANC's tender corruption, please

Tensions in the governing party

He made the statements after tensions in the governing party, following reports that family members of senior leaders benefitted from Covid-19-related tenders.

Ramaphosa's corruption-buster brand was dealt a large blow when Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of his very own spokesperson, Khusela Diko, was implicated in tender irregularity allegations after a R125 million contract was awarded to his company by the Gauteng health department.

Family members of other high-profile individuals within the ANC who were said to have also benefitted from Covid-19-related contracts, were reportedly the daughter of former Cabinet minister and national executive committee (NEC) member, Nomvula Mokonyane, and son of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

His statement comes on the back of an ANC NEC meeting that focused on corruption.

News24 reported over the weekend that a proposal to have former president Kgalema Motlanthe lead an investigation and give direction on all accusations of corruption against senior ANC leaders was shot down.

Ramaphosa was said to have set the tone for the debate around corruption in the party's highest structure, warning that reports of corruption undermined the government's efforts to deal with Covid-19.

In his letter, the president said he would change the culture in the public service to encourage more openness, making it easier to report the misuse of public funds.

This is already bearing fruits in the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, which brings together civil society, health sector regulators, law enforcement agencies and government departments to fight fraud and corruption in health, he said. 

The president also fingered private companies, including those in the JSE in acts of corruption, calling it "insidious behaviour" and adding that those profiteering from Covid-19 have opened up old wounds of state capture. 

"As a country, we have done much to turn our back on that era by disrupting and dismantling the networks that had infiltrated government, state companies and even our law enforcement agencies to loot public resources. We have rebuilt vital institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), SA Revenue Service and the Hawks.

ALSO READ | ANC divided over integrity committees findings

"Through the establishment of bodies like the Investigating Directorate in the NPA, we have strengthened the hand of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes. And through the establishment of the SIU (Special Investigating Unit) Special Tribunal, we have increased our capacity to get back funds stolen from the state. But it is clear that we need to do more. And that we need to act more decisively."

He added that a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling the commission of alleged criminality was needed for the fight against corruption to be successful.

A broad range of investigative and prosecutorial capabilities needed to be brought together under one roof, he said.

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