South Africa

Don’t let the wolves back in: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has lauded the country for being able to rebuild the supporting architecture to investigate and prosecute serious and other crimes within a short space of time.

This comes after 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.

In his weekly newsletter to the country, President Ramaphosa described 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 in connection with bribes allegedly paid to obtain contracts with Eskom between 2014 and 2017.

This amount, which will be paid into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account, is in addition to R1.6 billion that ABB paid Eskom in 2020 to settle an investigation into allegedly criminal conduct involving contracts at the Kusile power station.

“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 repurposed state institutions for private enrichment and to cover their tracks.

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“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,” the President said.

Now that progress is being made, the President said everyone must do everything they can to ensure that this work continues unhindered and that none of the gains that have been made are reversed.

He called on the nation to continue to support the agencies and people working in them with their full support and encouragement.

We need to guard against any efforts to weaken these institutions or undermine their resolve. 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,” the President said.

Reflecting on the country’s fight against corruption in the last five years, President Ramaphosa said that government has worked hard to end the looting of resources meant for the benefit of South Africa’s people.

He said that this was evident in the prosecution of those responsible and the recovery of stolen funds.

“When we embarked on this journey, we understood that the results would not be felt overnight.

“We first had to rebuild state institutions that had been deliberately weakened, emptied of expertise and rendered incapable of preventing capture by criminal elements. We had to strengthen law enforcement institutions and shield them from outside interference,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said that one of the most important steps they 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.

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

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

Read: The one thing businesses in South Africa need right now amid Ramaphosa’s reckoning

Artmotion S.Africa

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