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‘The Road From The Period Of State Capture Will Be Long’ – Ramaphosa Tells Zondo Commission

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who appeared before the Zondo Commission for the second time on Wednesday, says the road from the period of state capture “will be long”, but added “we will not, cannot relent”.

Ramaphosa first appeared in April, testifying in his capacity as president of the ANC.

He returned to the commission on Wednesday to conclude his testimony as chief of the governing party – and to start his evidence in his capacity as president of the Republic.

Reading out his statement to the commission, Ramaphosa said: “The road from the period of state capture will be long. Every measure we have instituted has taken time and has led to a lot of frustration. I believe that we will not, cannot relent.”

He said, through the work of the Zondo Commission, credibility should be restored and the country should be rebuilt.

Ramaphosa told acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, that he first became aware of state capture through the work of journalists, civil society organisations and institutions like the Public Protector and Auditor-General.

“As it became increasingly clearer – through the so-called Gupta Leaks and other revelations – that a network of individuals was seemingly colluding with senior government officials to occupy key positions and ‘capture’ key institutions, the question that arose was how to respond,” Ramaphosa said.

“This was a question that not only I had to grapple with, but also other members of the executive, who were deeply concerned about these developments as they saw them unfolding.”

Reinforce oversight

Ramaphosa told the commission that, since assuming the office of president in February 2018, the government had undertaken several measures to end state capture and “to rebuild damaged institutions and foster a culture of ethical public service and accountability”.

“In the main, the measures have aimed at changing the way in which the Cabinet functions, strengthening institutions that had been ‘captured’, starting with changes in [the] leadership of some of these institutions, changing the way in which SOEs were managed and overseen by government as [a] shareholder, and making necessary policy decisions to address shortcomings and reinforce oversight,” he said.

“One of the critical projects currently underway to strengthen the state involves the professionalisation of the public service. This aims to ensure that the public service is shorn of political partisanship and that the most qualified individuals enter its ranks.

“As this commission has heard, law enforcement agencies were deliberately weakened to limit their ability to act against those involved in corruption and state capture. It has, therefore, been a priority – and remains an ongoing task – of the administration I lead to rebuild and restore the integrity of these institutions,” he added.

Ramaphosa’s testimony is expected to continue on Thursday.

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