President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed members of the media during a question and answer session with the South African News Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday 9 September, and discussed concerns about efforts to curb rampant corruption within his party.
Ramaphosa insisted that the country “will see change” as his government puts in place measures to address the cancerous actions committed by its members, and said that he will be remembered for having done right by principles of democracy and transparent leadership in this regard.
He also said that those who are suspended following allegations of corruption being levelled against them will remain on the payroll of government, as per labour law protocols.
Ramaphosa: ‘We are in an incapability war zone’
Ramaphosa said that he hears the frustrations being voiced by the people of South Africa when it comes to the process of prosecuting those responsible for widely reported corruption, but said that patience also needs to be exercised.
“I am aware fo the frustrations that have been expressed. Some of it is borne out of people that expect dramatic action,” he said.
“I have repeatedly said that my task is to strengthen the organisations that should do their work, and the day you have a President who goes out and arrests, prosecutes and jails people, you should run for the hills.”
He said that the slow pace at which corruption-accused members of the party are found guilty is “rightfully frustrating” but assured viewers that within the “incapability war zone” he is currently navigating, resolution can soon be expected.
“All these things [the prosecution of corrupt individuals], as they don’t happen, will rest on the head of the President,” he said. “What I have said is that history will absolve me. The determination to put things right is there. We may be moving at a slow pace, but we are painstakingly putting things right.”
Suspended members will earn salaries as per labour laws
Ramaphosa said that the outcry over his suggestion that members of the ANC who are mandated to vacate their positions should they become implicated in corruption scandals will continue to earn a salary is warranted, but insisted that he is only acting in a manner deemed appropriate by labour law.
“The issue of people are found to have done wrong and are suspended and earn salaries… I know that people are appalled that someone who is suspended because they have been charged for corruption or some form of malfeasance would continue to earn a salary,” he said.
“Initially, I said that there are issues with labour laws. As it stands now, there are many companies where a person is suspended for whatever reason and it is often the case that they are suspended with pay. I know that this appalls the public, particularly its regard to politicians. The reaction has been quite negative.”
He went on to say that perhaps government needs to reform labour laws so that politicians are held to a higher standard than ordinary individuals.
“As an employer in government, when we suspend people – and I had to suspend a director general the other day for alleged wrongdoing – we suspended that person with pay. That is the rule, that is the done thing. One needs to look at it in this way, and there might need to be another rule for politicians.”
“The concern I have is that sometimes it goes on forever. I know some people who have been on suspension for years and continued to be paid. This is iniquitous – it should not happen in that way. We need to look at that and this moment should enable us to decide whether it is the right thing.”
Ramaphosa: ‘I can only equip authorities to do their jobs’
Ramaphosa said that when it comes to the process of ultimately prosecuting those who have engaged in corruption, it is his task to merely ensure that the relevant authorities are properly equipped with the resources to do their jobs.
“The processes around corruption are being undertaken by the SIU [Special Investigations Unit], by SARS [the South African Revenue Service], and all the agencies working together in what we have called the ‘fusion centre’ in order to promote accountability,” he said.
“All I will do is capacitate them to strengthen their ability to do their work without fear, favour, or prejudice.”
He also said that the controversial appointment of ministers currently holding positions in the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) as members of a task force responsible for overseeing corruption investigations was misunderstood.
“When we set up a Cabinet committee [on corruption], some people thought that we were setting it up to investigate, but we were setting it up to collate all that has happened from a procurement point of view in all departments and entities,” he said, adding that several members of the ANC are currently under investigation.
“There are quite a number of individuals who are being investigated right now. When I met with the entities in the fusion centre, I said that I want the SIU to report to me every six weeks. They have made considerable progress. They must investigate independently and prepare whatever materials they need.”
Read the original article on The South African