Ramaphosa: We should have been much more active in enforcing accountability

President Cyril Ramaphosa made major concessions at the state capture commission of inquiry as it blasted Cabinet and the African National Congress (ANC)'s costly inaction on corruption while he was deputy president.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appears at the state capture inquiry on 11 August 2021. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has again made major concessions at the state capture commission of inquiry as it blasted Cabinet and the African National Congress (ANC)'s costly inaction on corruption while he was deputy president.

Ramaphosa has had to answer to why the then-Cabinet had failed to stem corruption at rail agency Prasa, a crucial entity for millions of South Africans.

Irregular expenditure at the agency ballooned to over R24 billion as the entity suffered from maladministration and corruption allegations.

Cyril Ramaphosa again brought his charm offensive, at points cracking jokes with the chairperson, Raymond Zondo. But he faced some tough questions on the crisis at Prasa that Zondo described as depressing.

He wanted to know from Ramaphosa why Cabinet ignored that there was no permanent CEO for five years and that the SOE was mired in corruption.

“Was this matter not reaching the Cabinet? Wasn't the cabinet asking the question 'but how can we allow this to happen?' Irregular expenditure was going up astronomically,” the chair inquired.

Ramaphosa again blamed it on what he called systems failure.

“We should have been much more alert, we should have been much more active in terms of enforcing accountability, and we weren’t,” Ramaphosa replied.

Then chair of the Prasa board, Popo Molefe, had turned to the ANC top six to sound the alarm but got no support. Instead, he was attacked by ANC members in the portfolio committee on Public Enterprises.

Prasa has dominated the news on reports that the Swifambo Rail Leasing Director had paid the ANC R80 million after he was awarded a R3.5 billion contract to deliver locomotives in 2012.

President Ramaphosa said that Molefe was encouraged to speak to law enforcement agencies when he approached the ANC top six over corruption at the parastatal.

He responded to Molefe's testimony about the top six meeting - claiming they didn't have the power to take action.

The president addressed an accusation that they did nothing so that the Prasa board would be changed to suit certain interests.

"I must dispute this notion that the top six would have done nothing about all this so that the b oard can be collapsed because to me that is the realm of dark arts, too dark and too deliberate."

WATCH: Ramaphosa: state capture was ‘nicely hidden’

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.