‘Greatest damage will not be in the funds stolen,’ says Ramaphosa on corruption

The president delivered a keynote address at the national dialogue on anti-corruption.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says corruption will erode South Africans’ belief in democracy if it was allowed to continue unabated.

Ramaphosa delivered a keynote address at the national dialogue on anti-corruption.

The two-day conference, convened to discuss developing new anti-corruption measures, is being held at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday.

‘Greatest damage’

In his opening remarks, Ramaphosa reflected on government’s “progressive policies” aimed at improving the lives of citizens in South Africa through service delivery and tackling poverty, but acknowledged not enough have been achieved.

The president said one of the government’s “greatest failings” was corruption, which, in turn, has “wounded our democracy”.

“All South Africans suffer when goods, services, and resources meant for public benefit are misappropriated, mismanaged, and stolen, but it is the poor who suffer most.

“Corruption carries a huge opportunity cost. Economic growth is stifled, and businesses suffer. Development stalls and institutions fail. Corruption has wounded our democracy and shaken people’s faith in our institutions,” he said on Wednesday.

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Ramaphosa warned corruption would continue to cause more damage if nothing was done to address it.

“If corruption is not arrested, the greatest damage will not be in the funds stolen, the jobs lost or the services not delivered. The greatest damage will be to the belief in democracy itself.”

He also pointed out that corruption had “much deeper roots” in South Africa, dating back to apartheid.

“We must challenge the contention that corruption is a creation of our democratic order,” the president said, adding that “apartheid was both morally and materially corrupt”.

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‘Significant progress’

The president further highlighted that over the last five years, the government has invested significant resources to rebuild the law enforcement agencies and other bodies that were devastated by state capture.

“The ongoing work of the Public Protector, law enforcement agencies, the courts, the media and civil society in exposing corruption and acting against perpetrators is testimony to the power of our constitutional order,” he said.

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Ramaphosa continued to say that the significant progress made in dealing with corruption in “bringing to justice” those responsible for state capture.

Such work included:

  • Nine separate court cases, involving 47 individuals and 21 companies, have been brought to court.
  • Freezing orders amounting to R14 billion have been authorised by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and a total of R5.4 billion has been recovered and returned to the state.
  • Government departments, municipalities and professional bodies are taking disciplinary action against individuals identified by the State Capture Commission.
  • The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has collected R4.9 billion in unpaid taxes.

“While there is a long road ahead, the fight against corruption is gaining momentum,” he added.

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