“We want that money back!” - Ramaphosa talks tough on corruption

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa

The government will be embarking on a "massive project" to get back the money stolen through corruption‚ President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

He was speaking at the ANC’s Gauteng provincial elective conference in Irene‚ where he said corruption in any form would not be tolerated in the party.

With a staggering R100-billion estimated to have been looted through state capture and corruption in recent years‚ the president now says his government will move to recoup that money so that it can benefit the people of SA.

"There are billions that have been siphoned out. We must now say we want that money back‚" he told delegates at the Gauteng conference.

In a wide-ranging address which touched on corruption‚ health‚ the economy and the ANC's renewal‚ Ramaphosa admitted that the 2019 national election is set to be "hard fought"‚ particularly in Gauteng.

The province is a key battleground in 2019‚ with opposition parties hard at work to consolidate their power in the country's economic heartland after the ANC’s poor showing in the last national and local government elections‚ which culminated in its loss of two key metros‚ Tshwane and Johannesburg.

With infighting in the ANC continuing unabated since its national conference in December‚ Ramaphosa warned that "disunity" among ANC leaders and members eroded public support for the party and resulted in a loss of votes.

Ramaphosa repeated that the ANC wanted the love of the people back‚ a message he also delivered to professionals in Gauteng last month. "It’s in our hands to restore the image and position of the ANC‚" he said. “Go give the people the ANC they love‚ trust and want to support.”

He said the tendency of ANC members to instigate violent and destructive protests should also come to an end. His comments follow a recent study by Municipal IQ indicating that protests in SA at local level had reached a record high in 2018.

"We can't have a situation where members of the ANC‚ Sanco [the SA National Civic Organisation] and the alliance get involved in protests and are the ones who lead violent protests. This must come to a stop with immediate effect‚" said Ramaphosa‚ adding that ANC members should instead be helping communities to seek constructive solutions to their problems.

The president urged party leaders at national level to stop interfering in the election of leaders in the provinces. "A number of our structures are saying‚ ‘President‚ we wish national leaders of the ANC would stop interfering in the choice of leaders in the provinces‚" he said.

The Gauteng conference is set to elect new leaders on Friday and Saturday.

Former Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile was elevated to the ANC’s national treasurer at the party's national conference in December. He is expected to be replaced by deputy chairman David Makhura‚ who is standing uncontested for the post.

The position of deputy chairman is now heavily contested between education MEC Panyaza Lesufi‚ economic development MEC Lebogang Maile and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.

Sowetan understands that Lesufi holds an early edge‚ judging from nominations from the regions‚ including parts of Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. But while nominations can provide an early indication of support‚ they may not translate into actual votes at the conference.

The conference concludes on Sunday.

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