Apartheid-era corruption can't deflect from state capture – Cyril Ramaphosa

DP says some people are trying to find excuses not to address the corruption of today

Past corruption cannot deflect from state capture - Ramaphosa

30 November 2017

Cape Town - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says calls for a probe into apartheid era corruption are valid, but the probe should have its own process and not deflect from current state capture.

Ramaphosa on Thursday held an informal breakfast with members of Parliament's Press Gallery Association, where journalists could ask him questions on any topic.

For one of the questions, on attempts to block or deflect from probes into state capture, Ramaphosa said past ills could not be used to shield current corruption.

"There has been a temptation by many when issues of corruption and, in this case state capture, are raised for people to try and find an excuse not to address it.

"They say: 'What about the others?' One wrong thing that has happened cannot be wiped out by citing something that happened in 1652. We need to deal with what is happening now."

Ramaphosa said there was indeed massive corruption and looting in the past, possibly on a similar scale to current state capture, and that calls for a probe were warranted.

"All these things that have plundered the resources of our people must be looked at. But we cannot say we will not look at this current one because there was another one in 1994 that was not looked at.

'Separate probe'

Every incident of corruption should be looked at on its own merits, he continued.

"In my view, we should set up a separate process.

"Let's deal with the current one, where the information is still fresh, the perpetrators are still around and known, and set up another protest to deal with what happened [in the past]."

Current state capture, more importantly, has contributed to the country's current economic woes, and needs to be understood to "bring us back from the precipice".

"Right now, we are facing this one, where one family has been able to capture various state institutions in an almost organised way, where there has been method, there has been system, there has been mechanics.

"If we don't look at it, we will be failing the people of South Africa."

He said government can choose which era it wants to look at and set out terms of reference for past corruption.

Prosecutions 'have to happen'

Ramaphosa said there is nothing stopping law enforcement agencies, such as the National Prosecuting Authority, to commence state capture prosecutions immediately.

"One expects and hopes that that process is under way. I frankly do not believe that you could have had wrongdoing on such a grand scale and never have any form of accountability.

"I don't believe that will ever be the case. I believe it will happen."

He admitted the wheels in government moved slowly.

"But accountability has to happen. Many people are coming forward with evidence and fingering people," he said referencing the Eskom inquiry.

"If it doesn't happen, what is the purpose of the rule of law? The values enshrined in the Constitution dictate that there must be accountability."

Ramaphosa also repeated his public stance on the pending judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

"Lawyers are looking into this matter and the courts have also intervened.

"Once that judgment comes out, things will be a lot clearer, and the president will be able to act."

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in October 2016 directed Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture in her State of Capture report.

The Constitutional Court has yet to set a date for its ruling on Zuma's challenge to have Madonsela's recommendations set aside.