S African Prez Ramaphosa Outlines Plans To Implement ‘state Capture’ Commission Recommendations

Johannesburg, Oct 24 (PTI): South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined plans to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry that exposed rampant corruption at all levels of government and business for the past decade.

Ramaphosa was addressing the country in a national broadcast on Sunday evening, a day after he handed over to Parliament his cabinet’s response to the recommendations of the commission into “state capture”.

“This was no ordinary Commission of Inquiry. It was a commission whose work will have a lasting impact on our democracy and our country,” Ramaphosa said.

“Few could have imagined that from among the leadership of our public institutions, from within our business circles, from among our public representatives and public servants, would emerge a network of criminal intent.

“Few could have imagined that this group of people would infiltrate key departments, state-owned companies, private companies, law enforcement bodies and security services to loot vast amounts of public funds; that they would weaken and destroy state institutions and thus undermine the capacity of the state,” he said.

The president listed the lasting impact of the billions which had been looted from state coffers by people who acted in collusion with senior government officials.

“When we do not have enough locomotives to carry goods to our ports, when our power stations fail, when our national airline closes routes and cancels flights, when the employees of state-owned enterprises are not paid and when our security services are slow to respond to public unrest, we feel the hand and effects of state capture.

“We see the effects of state capture in other areas, in our weakened institutions, in the substantial public debt of some of our institutions, in poor service delivery and in diminished public confidence in the State,” he said.

But Ramaphosa said decisive steps have already been implemented to address issues raised by the commission, such as strengthening the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions and appointing the SIU Special Tribunal to expedite the recovery of stolen funds.

He said since its establishment, the tribunal has recovered over R8.6 billion, while law enforcement agencies have to date been granted freezing or preservation orders to the tune of R12.9 billion. A total of R2.9 billion has been recovered and returned to the affected entities and the South African Revenue Services had collected R4.8 billion in unpaid taxes arising from the commission’s work.

The commission made over 350 recommendations, which included 202 for criminal or other investigations and 27 for the recovery of assets. Ramaphosa said abuse of the procurement system was one of the main ways that taxpayer funds were illicitly diverted to private interests instead of providing value to the public.

He did not name any politician in his address, but the commission fingered high-ranking ministers and even former president Jacob Zuma as being implicated in “state capture” actions.

He said as recommended by the commission, lifestyle audits for the president, deputy president, ministers and deputy ministers are being managed by the Director General in the Presidency and undertaken by an independent external service provider. Ministers will also be prohibited from playing any role in procurement within state-owned enterprises or departments.

Ramaphosa listed a wide range of professionals who assisted in the “state capture” and looting in various ways.

“These perpetrators included management consultants, advisors, accountants, auditors, lawyers, bankers, as well as providers of goods and services, including large multinational firms.

“To address some of the abuses by private companies, amendments will be made to laws currently under review to, among other things, criminalise donations to political parties in expectation of state contracts, to bar suppliers who have engaged in dishonest or corrupt behaviour, and to make failure to prevent bribery an offence,” the president said.

Ramaphosa said he was also attending to the commission’s recommendations on Members of the Executive against whom adverse findings were made.

“Those who are involved in corruption, or who are even thinking about engaging in criminal conduct, must know that all the instruments of the state will be used to bring them to book. There will be no place for corrupt people, for criminal networks, for perpetrators of state capture to hide,” the president concluded. PTI FH CJ CJ

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)