South Africa’s president vows to crack down on corruption

Government working with private sector to revitalize economy and end inequality and injustice impeding progress, says Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s president said Thursday that his country stands united against corruption, and those implicated in a judicial commission of inquiry for corruption will be punished.

‘‘We are rebuilding the state and restoring trust and pride in public institutions,” said Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at a joint sitting of parliament held in the city of Cape Town.

A judicial commission of inquiry dubbed the “State Capture Commission” has for years been probing allegations of widespread corruption during former President Jacob Zuma’s nearly a decade in office.

Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who has been the chairman of the commission, handed over two reports to Ramaphosa in both January and February.

He heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses detailing their accounts of events on how the state was “captured” by business associates and friends of the Zuma family – particularly the influential Gupta family – who allegedly took control of most state operations and finances.

It is alleged that the Guptas would influence Zuma to fire ministers and top government officials who did not advance their business interests and appoint cronies who pushed their agenda forward.

“The path we choose now will determine the course for future generations. That is why we are taking steps to strengthen our democracy and reaffirm our commitment to a constitution that protects us all,” Ramaphosa said in his speech to the nation.

He said the government is working together with the private sector to revitalize the economy and end inequality and injustice that impedes the country’s progress.

This was the first time since South Africa gained democracy in 1994 that the State of the Nation Address was delivered at a city hall and not the Chamber of the National Assembly. Last month, a massive fire destroyed the National Assembly.

Ramaphosa said his government has given itself 100 days to finalize a comprehensive social compact to grow the economy, create jobs and combat hunger.

“There is agreement among a broad and diverse range of South Africans that fundamental reforms are needed to revive economic growth,” he said.

‘‘This should be a new consensus which recognizes that the state must create an environment in which the private sector can invest and unleash the dynamism of the economy.”

He said the government will create an environment in which South Africans can live a better life and unleash the energy of their capabilities.

‘‘This should also be a new consensus which embraces our shared responsibility to one another and acknowledges that we are all in this together,” he said.​​​​​​​

“As the social partners — government, labor, business and communities — we are working to determine the actions we will take together to build such a consensus,” he added.


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