President Cyril Ramaphosa made his much-anticipated appearance at the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday (28 April) in his capacity as ANC President.
Before commencing his testimony before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, he made an opening statement on behalf of the ANC. Here are some of the key quotes from the statement:
On the inquiry’s responsibility
“This commission is the instrument through which we seek, as a nation, to understand the nature and extent of state capture, to confront it, to hold those responsible to account, and to take the necessary measures to ensure such events do not occur ever again in our country.”
On the impact of state capture
“State capture and corruption have taken a great toll on our society and our economy. They have eroded the values of our constitution and undermined the rule of law.
“If allowed to continue, they would threaten the achievement of the growth, development and transformation of our country.
“It is for these reasons that the ANC’s 54th national conference in December 2017 resolved to support the establishment of this commission. The ANC has consistently expressed its support for the objectives and the work of the commission.”
On his appearance
“Therefore, I appear before the commission not to make excuses or to defend the indefensible. The ANC has agreed to not only support the work of the commission, but [also] to assist the commission in every way possible to fulfil its mandate.
“My submission, and the other submissions made on the ANC’s behalf, are therefore intended to provide whatever information, context and explanation the commission may require.”
‘ANC is not in itself corrupt’
An important aspect of the ANC’s approach to corruption over the years is a recognition of the extent to which some ANC leaders and members were advertently and inadvertently complicit in corrupt actions.
“And as a consequence, the extent to which corruption contributed to practices of patronage, factionalism and the manipulation of organisational processes within the ANC is a matter of record.
“The recognition of these facts does not mean the ANC is itself corrupt or uniquely affected by corruption. There are other institutions in society, various political and social formations, as well as private sector companies, that have to confront corruption within their own ranks.”
‘Fikile Mbalula made sounded alarm on Gupta involvement’
“Without going into detail in this opening statement, it is worth mentioning that one of the earliest claims made within ANC structures of the possibility that members of the Gupta family may have had an improper role in the functioning of the executive was a statement by minister Fikile Mbalula at an NEC meeting in 2011.”
On the ANC’s 54th National Conference
“The ANC’s 54th National Conference was in many ways a watershed moment in the ANC’s efforts to confront state capture and corruption within its ranks.
“[Its] resolutions signalled a clear determination by the membership of the ANC to acknowledge the organisation’s failings, to make a clean break with corrupt practices and to initiate an ethical, political and organisational renewal of the ANC.
“One of the areas in which the ANC has taken clear action is to require that members of the ANC who are formally charged with corruption and other serious charges must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, legislatures or other government structures pending the finalisation of their matters. Such members who do not step aside may be summarily suspended.”
On cadre deployment
“It should be noted that the deployment of cadres to strategic positions is not unique to the ANC. It is practised in various forms and through various mechanisms – even if not always acknowledged as such – by other political parties in South Africa and in other countries.
“In identifying suitable candidates for positions in public entities, the ANC does not seek to circumvent the established and often legally mandated processes for the appointment of individuals to these positions.
“Candidates are still expected to submit their applications, meet the necessary requirements and be subjected to the normal processes of recruitment, selection and appointment.
“Even with these requirements, there are several instances where individuals appointed to positions may not have been “fit for purpose” or may not have had the necessary experience or qualifications.”
On funding of political parties
“Despite the absence of an official policy on donations, there is an expectation – based on the ANC constitution, its principles and its values – that the ANC would not knowingly accept monies that are the product of a criminal act, are offered in exchange for favours or are from a source known to engage in illegal or unethical activities.
On ANC leaders/members complicit in corruption
“Their actions are a direct violation, not only of the laws of the republic, but also of the ANC constitution, its values and principles, and the resolutions and decisions of the ANC’s constitutional structures.
“Such members must face the full legal consequences of their actions. They cannot rely on the ANC for support or protection, nor may they appeal to the principle of collective responsibility.
“In accounting for their actions, they must be accountable for their actions themselves, because the ANC did not and could never direct its members or leaders to commit acts of corruption.”
To read President Cyril Ramaphosa’s opening statement in full, click here.