In an unprecedented admission about his own party’s role in multi-billion rand corruption involving Covid-19 relief and procurement, Cyril Ramaphosa said in a letter to African National Congress (ANC) members that the party ‘may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as Accused No. 1’.
‘We must acknowledge that our movement, the African National Congress, has been and remains deeply implicated in South Africa’s corruption problem,’ he said.
Public ‘anger and disillusionment’ were ‘understandable and justified’.
He went as far as acknowledging the ‘painful truth’ that corruption in the ANC long preceded the pandemic, that it had robbed the party of integrity, had had a ‘devastating’ effect on key institutions that ‘have been left deeply dysfunctional and some virtually destroyed’, and ‘caused huge damage to the economy and to the capacity of the state’.
Ramaphosa promised that ‘we now need to draw a line in the sand. We need to act urgently, we need to be decisive and we need to demonstrate a clear political will.’
He acknowledged: ‘Today, the ANC and its leaders stand accused of corruption. The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as Accused No. 1. This is the stark reality that we must now confront. ‘
He wrote: ‘Our lack of discipline and failure to deal with the issues in our movement have eroded our organisational ethos and standing. Over many years, we have seen corruption in the state, in society and in the ANC take several forms.’
Writing in the Daily Maverick, Stephen Grootes yesterday speculated that Ramaphosa ‘might well have gone over the heads of the national executive committee (NEC) in general, and secretary-general Ace Magashule in particular’ in writing directly to rank-and-file members of the party.
Analysts point out, however, that, apart from his striking admission about the ANC’s being central to corruption, the president’s letter says little that has not been said by the ANC before: promises to deal with corruption, and pleas to the party faithful to behave themselves.
For weeks, the health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have seemed to take second place to coverage of the shocking scale of shameless greed and corruption, often on the part of senior political figures or those connected with them.
Ramaphosa’s 2 800-word letter yesterday follows startling revelations by the South African Revenue Services (Sars), including that 17 tenders awarded to ‘politically exposed persons’ accounted for R1.2 billion rand, a full 60% of tenders worth R2 billion presently being investigated in connection with personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases for the fight against Covid-19.
Positive cases grew yesterday by 2 728 to a cumulative total of 609 773 (with 506 470 recoveries). Deaths rose by 72 to 13 059.
The highest tally of cases is in Gauteng (206 018), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (109 841), the Western Cape (104 588) and the Eastern Cape (85 203).