South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged that those responsible for plundering taxpayer funds during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s rule will face prosecution. Investors and the public at large will still need convincing.
More than R500 billion ($34 billion) may have been stolen during Zuma’s nine-year tenure, and ‘some people’ say the figure could exceed R1 trillion, Ramaphosa told a conference hosted by the Financial Times in London on Monday.
He gave assurances that the National Prosecuting Authority, which was gutted during the previous administration, is being rebuilt and indictments will follow.
But while Ramaphosa appointed Shamila Batohi as the NPA’s new head in December and it has established an investigations unit, not a single high-profile individual has been charged or jailed. Only a tiny fraction of the misappropriated funds have been recovered.
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state power utility that was at the center of the looting spree, has halted its probe into the theft of money from two partially completed plants because it couldn’t pay for it, Johannesburg’s Sunday Times newspaper reported.
Frustration with the lack of action was captured in a cartoon published in Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper that labeled a tracksuit-clad Batohi crouched on a race track as a “non-starter.”
She’s acknowledged that the NPA hasn’t acted as swiftly as South Africans would like it to, but that cases should be water-tight before they go to court.
While Zuma is due to go on trial on Tuesday, that case relates to allegations that he took bribes from arms dealers dating back to the 1990s. He denies wrongdoing.