Ramaphosa: Unprecedented govt action a new phase in fight against corruption

President Cyril Ramaphosa said that COVID-19 corruption had presented a situation where the problem could be dealt with.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on 27 August 2020 appeared before the National Assembly in a hybrid plenary session to answer these questions presented for oral reply. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen on Thursday accused the African National Congress (ANC) of not taking any action against corruption despite promising to do so.

Steenhuisen was speaking during a question and answer session with President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament.

Many of the questions he faced dealt with corruption, especially the malfeasance related to the spending of funds dedicated to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governing party has come under fire for redeploying former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

Steenhuisen said that the president had been ineffective in dealing with corruption.

“If you’re serious about fighting corruption, you should start by putting senior government ministers and [ANC secretary-general] Ace Magashule as well as others implicated in corruption in jail. But you can’t do that because you cannot split the ANC, you would rather be soft on corruption,” Steenhuisen said.

Ramaphosa tried to quell the public outcry over what seems to be rampant corruption linked to COVID-19 spending, he told the House that the steps taken by the government were unprecedented and signalled a new phase in the fight against corruption.

He responded by saying that COVID-19 corruption had presented a situation where the problem could be dealt with.

“We must take this COVID-19 moment as a moment where we now enter a new era as far as dealing with corruption goes. It has cost us a lot but at the same time we need to say we are drawing the line in the sand and we are not going to have a system where we have procurement reform – where our reform process is completely different from what we have had – so that the thieves and thugs and those who want to corrupt do not find an easy way to be able to abuse state resources,” he said.

Ramaphosa’s own spokesperson Khusela Diko is currently on leave pending an investigation into COVID-19 procurement by a company linked to her husband.

Ramaphosa said that the six ministers tasked with gathering information on COVID-19 tenders were 90% done with their work and information was being posted on the National Treasury website as it is received, while the separate investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) continued.

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