Ramaphosa will not respond to state capture findings 'at this stage', says presidency
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was found to have let the country down by not doing enough to fight state capture when he was deputy president during Jacob Zuma’s reign, says he will give a comprehensive response to the state capture report when he hands over his implementation plan to parliament.
“The president has committed to consider the commission’s report in its totality and to present a comprehensive response and implementation plan to parliament. The presidency will therefore not respond at this stage to specific aspects of the commission’s findings and recommendations,” Ramaphosa’s office said on Thursday.
During the official handover ceremony of the final instalment of the state capture report on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa indicated that, “in line with the directive of the high court, within four months from this date, I will formally present to parliament the full report of the commission together with an indication of my intentions on the implementation of the commission’s recommendations”.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa had noted several media queries about observations made by chief justice Raymond Zondo in his report, particularly about decisions and action taken by Ramaphosa when he was Zuma’s second in command.
TimesLIVE reported on Thursday evening that Ramaphosa was found to have essentially turned a blind eye to state capture when he was deputy president of the country.
“The option he [Ramaphosa] chose did not prevent state capture from continuing. There are good chances in my view that if he was removed, that would have shaken those who were pursuing state capture.”
During his testimony Ramaphosa told the commission he was faced with five options: “resign, speak out, acquiesce and abet, remain and keep silent, [or] remain and resist”.
Ramaphosa testified he “was morally opposed to acquiescing and abetting as well as to keeping silent”. He said if he and others had resigned, there would have been even fewer impediments to the unfettered expansion of the state capture project.
Ramaphosa feared that if he had been confronted “he would have been removed and therefore would be unable to prevent state capture”.
But for Zondo, this was not enough. He tore into Ramaphosa saying: “If President Ramaphosa had spoken out — and he did not need to have been confrontational — and spoken out firmly against state capture and wrongdoing, and president Zuma fired him, that stance could have given hope to a lot of other members of the cabinet who may have been looking for someone to lead in this regard.”
Zondo said Ramaphosa should have rather taken the risk of getting fired than to keep quiet about state capture.
“President Ramaphosa could have inspired others in the ANC to be more vocal. And the more voices became vocal, the less chances that those who were pursuing state capture would have continued as before.
“If he was fired as deputy president of the country and remained simply as deputy president of the ANC, he would have more time to prepare for the position of the president of the ANC in December 2017.
“Accordingly, in my view, he should have spoken out. I accept that it may be difficult to choose between keeping quiet and resisting. It would be untenable to send a message that if the same scenario were to happen again sometime in the future, the right thing is not to speak out.
“He claimed that he would have been dismissed if he had been more confrontational. This contention was analysed ... He must have believed that former president Zuma was complicit in state capture and was prepared to dismiss his deputy president to protect the state capture project. Yet he did not give any evidence as to why he believed this was the case.
“Had he tried to act in some way against corruption and state capture, and been rebuked? Had he seen others face these consequences from the former president?”
In one section Zondo asked, “What did he know, when did he know it, and what did he do about it?” — a phrase derived from Ramaphosa's own testimony during proceedings of the commission. Zondo detailed how some of Ramaphosa’s responses went some “way towards answering those questions but unfortunately leave some important gaps”.
Furthermore, Zondo said: “Ramaphosa must have believed that the ruling party would not defend him in such a case and that the ANC would have protected a president who fired his deputy president for the crime of confronting corruption.”
Zondo believes Ramaphosa could have acted with more urgency.
“While no counterfactual can be proven, we must ask whether these processes could have been arrested sooner had more powerful figures, like President Ramaphosa, been willing to act with more urgency.”
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.