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Media, whistleblowers lauded for exposing state rot

Ramaphosa thanks journalists for exposing fraud

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

State capture would have continued longer had whistleblowers and the media not stepped in and helped unearth evidence of deepening rot and corruption within the government over the years.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who concluded his two-day testimony before the Zondo commission on Thursday. 

Ramaphosa spent the greater part of his testimony expressing the party’s full support of investigations and admitting that the ANC had on numerous occasions failed to live up to its values and expectations in arresting the rot and plunder of state resources over the years.

Ramaphosa said whistleblowers had played a critical role in uncovering state capture despite having faced difficulty in South Africa after exposing wrongdoing.

“Once they blow the whistle, they have been subjected to enormous pressures that have affected them personally, professionally and career wise.  They have been brave men and women who because of their abhorrence of corruption blew the whistle,” he said.

The ANC has been under the spotlight before the inquiry and Ramaphosa had to account on why the party had presided over corruption over the past decade, while it secured donations from companies that were located at the heart of state capture allegations.

The party had been found to have also sourced funding from state-owned entities that were being plundered through state capture.

Ramaphosa apologised on behalf of the party over its failures in dealing with state capture, which he said had profoundly affected the coherence and unity of the ANC and disabled it from carrying out its mandate .

“As part of efforts to make a decisive break with the era of state capture, the ANC has embarked on a journey of renewal and regeneration and I believe that the work of this commission, as much as its purpose is to serve the nation, will in the end assist the ANC along the path of renewal,” he said.

Several top leaders of the ANC have, however, expressed their misgivings about the commission, along with former president Jacob Zuma who has vowed never to appear before it as he accuses its chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo of bias against him.

Ramaphosa said it was “at times very uncomfortable and difficult for the ANC '' but that the party welcomed the scrutiny as a necessary step in tackling corruption.

Evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius pointed out that Ramaphosa’s explanation that in hindsight the ANC should have acted earlier against state capture was not accounting for what had happened.

Ramaphosa has told the commission that he would give full details of what he had personally known about the emergence of state capture when he appears before the commission as the head of state next month.

Ramaphosa defended the controversial concealing of the bank statements of his CR17 ANC presidential campaign saying opening them up would be in breach of the agreement reached with the funders.

Ramaphosa said many of the people who had bankrolled his successful presidential campaign were already known by those who had taken him to court to unseal the bank statements of CR17.

He said the CR17 campaign had, however, also been funded by other sources on the basis of having their identities being concealed.

“They wanted their identity to be kept out of the media and it was in that type of condition which the campaign managers agreed to,” he said.

He stressed that there was nothing sinister and underhanded about the CR17 donations despite accusations that the money had been used to buy votes.  

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