In South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa recognizes endemic corruption under Jacob Zuma

South African head of state Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged endemic state corruption under the presidency of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, saying he did not resign as vice president at the time, to try to resist this scourge. On Wednesday August 11, he testified before the commission investigating the looting of state coffers under the Zuma presidency (2009-2018), which ended prematurely due to the scale of the scandal. Mr. Ramaphosa had been its vice-president since 2014, before succeeding him in February 2018.

“As it became more and more obvious”, in particular via a damning report by the country’s mediator in 2016 and then press revelations, “That a network of individuals apparently colluded with senior officials to occupy positions and seize key institutions”, Mr. Ramaphosa said he had “Five possible options”: “resign, denounce, acquiesce and encourage, stay and remain silent, or stay and resist”, he listed. What if he had resigned, that “Would have considerably reduced [sa] ability to contribute ” to limit corruption at the highest level, he pleaded. So he decided to stay “To resist some of the most egregious abuses of power”.

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During this second testimony before the commission, Mr. Ramaphosa thus implicitly responded to the many criticisms accusing him of being slow or powerless in the face of this scourge that he had promised to fight when he came to power. A few months away from test local elections for the African National Congress (ANC), a historic party which he also chairs, he marks, by his conciliatory attitude towards this commission, his difference from Mr. Zuma. The latter, for having stubbornly refused to appear there, was sentenced to fifteen months in prison, where he has been sleeping for a month.

” Better late than never “

Paradoxically, it is the generalized exasperation against corruption, such as poverty and the inequalities that result from it, that fueled the violence and looting that shook the country in mid-July, initially triggered by his imprisonment. The so-called “Guptagate” report in 2016 detailed how a sibling of businessmen of Indian origin, the Gupta, had won lucrative public contracts and imposed the appointment of certain ministers to promote their interests.

Mr. Ramaphosa justified having avoided the conflict with Mr. Zuma so as not to be sacked or to see his influence, his “Ability to bring about change”, considerably limited or even wiped out. When he appeared before the commission for the first time in April, he admitted that corruption had taken root within the ANC. But, questioned on the precise moment when he realized the magnitude of this sprawling monster, he had kicked in touch, claiming to need to think.

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On Wednesday, having answered this question, he promised to do better. “Having drawn a line in the sand, we are now going to seriously tackle the corruption., did he declare. You might ask me, “Why haven’t you done it for so many years?”, But better late than never. “ At the end of its work, at the end of September, the committee will be able to transmit its conclusions to the prosecution for possible prosecution.

The World with AFP