South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO RELOADED

Investigating Directorate will become permanent NPA entity ‘to strengthen anti-corruption activities’

Investigating Directorate will become permanent NPA entity ‘to strengthen anti-corruption activities’
President Cyril Ramaphosa receives the first part of the State Capture report from Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Photo: Alet Pretorius)

‘Corruption is a betrayal of our democracy and an assault on the institutions that we established together to advance the values of our Constitution and the interests of our people,’ said President Cyril Ramaphosa as he unpacked Cabinet’s response to the recommendations of the State Capture commission.

The Investigating Directorate will be established as a permanent entity within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said President Cyril Ramaphosa, unpacking Cabinet’s response to the recommendations of the State Capture commission.

The President made the announcement on Sunday, 23 October during a televised address where he took no questions from the media.

The establishment of the directorate is in a bid to “further strengthen existing anti-corruption capabilities”, said Ramaphosa, pointing out that the directorate had enrolled 26 cases, declared 89 investigations, and that 165 accused individuals had appeared in court for alleged State Capture-related offences. Some of these cases involve Transnet, the country’s frail freight rail agency.

On the Cabinet’s response — which was first handed to Parliament on Saturday — the President said “the submission of this response is a firm and clear indication of the primacy of the rule of law and a demonstration of our democratic system at work.” He continued, “This response constitutes an ethical, moral and institutional departure from the abuses revealed by the State Capture commission”.

“Our law enforcement agencies have, to date, been granted freezing or preservation orders to the value of R12.9-billion,” said the President.

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Ramaphosa said the submission to Parliament fell on the exact month six years ago when former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela submitted her State of Capture report on investigations into complaints of alleged improper and unethical conduct by private individuals, companies and state functionaries.

Breaking down some of the implementation plans specifically related to procurement, the President said: “the Commission found that the appointment and removal of board members and senior executives in state-owned enterprises was one of the key causes of state capture,” and added: “the lack of compliance, transparency and accountability in the appointment of board members not only enabled the capture of these companies but also contributed to a decline in their operational and financial performance”.

The President said the government accepted the Commission’s recommendations on the need for a process for the appointment of boards of state entities that was not open to “manipulation”.

“This would include the involvement of independent panels with appropriate technical expertise to recommend suitable candidates to the relevant minister,” said the President.

One announcement was that no board member would be allowed to be involved in procurement processes beyond playing an oversight role. Ministers are banned from playing any role in procurement processes within departments or state entities.

Other announcements include:

  • On the independence of the NPA, legislative amendments will introduce greater transparency and consultation in the selection and appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • Lifestyle audits for the president, deputy president, ministers and deputy ministers are being managed by the director-general in the Presidency and undertaken by an external, independent service provider.
  • amendments will be made to current laws under review to criminalise “donations to political parties in expectations of state contracts” and bar suppliers who have been engaged in dishonest or corrupt behaviour.

During his speech, Ramaphosa referred to the State Capture commission’s call for a special further commission into the affairs of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). The President said while the government was considering the commission, it would wait until investigations by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit were complete before making a decision on Prasa.

There were also references in the State Capture commission’s recommendations about individuals within the executive. “In this regard, I am attending to the Commission’s recommendations on Members of the Executive against whom adverse findings were made,” said the President.

On Parliament, the president said in line with the separation of powers and in line with Parliament’s right to determine its own rules, Deputy President David Mabuza (the Leader of Government Business) will interact with Parliament’s Presiding Officers on the commission recommendations on the interface between Parliament and the Executive.

In conclusion, the President said: “As a country, we are emerging from a dark and difficult period… together, we have chosen a path of rebuilding, a path of renewal, a path of transparency and accountability, a path of justice and the rule of law”.

“I have every confidence that no matter the challenges, we will walk this path together and we will prevail,” he said. DM

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