Ramaphosa on ANC corruption, Russian vaccines, and why Covid-19 support can’t last forever

President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a hard stance on corruption and criminality in the ANC, and says the party will account for its actions.

In a closing address to the party’s  National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Sunday (14 February), the president said that the Constitution and the rule of law are ‘sacrosanct’ and all people must respect these principles.

“To allow anything else would lead to anarchy and open the floodgates easily for counter-revolution. Corruption and state capture, as well as lawlessness, are against the core principles and values of the ANC,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that he will lead an ANC presentation to the state capture commission, and will use the opportunity to ‘unequivocally reaffirm the position’ of the party against state capture and corruption.

The president said that the NEC also adopted guidelines on dealing with party members found to be in conflict of the law or accused of serious misdemeanours – which have become known as the the so-called ‘step aside’ rules.

The guidelines, which were not announced in any detail, indicate that ANC members facing criminal charges should step aside voluntarily. However, the president did not provide any further clarification – like what will happen to members if they don’t do this.

The step aside policy will reportedly work with guidance from the ANC’s Integrity Commission, however Ramaphosa said that, ideally, the party would rely on the ‘revolutionary conscience’ of members and leaders to come forward when they are at fault, and not rely on party structures to make findings against them.


Vaccines 

Ramaphosa said that South Africa is now engaging with a range of countries, including Russia, to source vaccines.

The president said that the government has also set up an inter-ministerial committee to aid in this endeavour.  He said that the ANC NEC endorses the plan to vaccinate healthcare workers in the first phase of the rollout.

Russian president Vladimir Putin told a government meeting on Wednesday (10 February) that peer-reviewed data published in The Lancet medical journal this month showed the Sputnik V vaccine to be safe and with 91.6% efficacy.

He has championed Sputnik V at talks with other leaders since boasting in August that Russia had become the first nation in the world to clear a Covid-19 vaccine for use, Bloomberg reports.


Covid-19 grants 

As the country transitions from relief to recovery, it also has to shift gears towards growth, Ramaphosa said.

Writing in his weekly open letter to the public on Monday (15 February), the president said that the pandemic caused many workers to lose part of their income as their work hours were reduced, with many being retrenched.

He added that several businesses have incurred heavy losses from scaled-back operations. Others have had to close, while people working in the informal sector have also suffered, he said.

While government has further extended support to workers into 2021, the president said that these relief measures were designed to be temporary, and the economy will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic for some time

“Even as lockdown restrictions have been eased, many companies are struggling to cope with the fallout of months of diminished operations and lost revenue,” he said.


Economic recovery

The president said that the focus must now be on creating an enabling environment for businesses to recover, and for economic growth that spurs job creation and attracts investment.

“The recovery will be difficult and will take time, not least because we are still in the midst of the pandemic. As these relief measures are now, we will not be able to sustain them indefinitely.

“We need to make sure that these relief measures provide a firm foundation for a broader recovery without driving the country deeper into debt. Unless we can bring our national debt down to sustainable levels no meaningful economic recovery will be possible.”

Ramaphosa said that the ‘national consciousness’ must now move beyond the realm of relief into that of recovery. “As government, hard decisions on public spending will need to be made and implemented this year.

“Companies will need to be innovative in driving methods and processes that secure their sustainability and profitability, with job retention being their foremost consideration.”

Ramaphosa said that money must be put back into our economy by buying local products, supporting local businesses and industries and procuring from local suppliers.

“An injured patient with strong prospects for recovery is given regular physical therapy to help them get stronger until they can stand unaided.

“So must these temporary relief measures be seen as the means to get our economy back on its feet. Our ultimate goal is to walk again.”


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Ramaphosa on ANC corruption, Russian vaccines, and why Covid-19 support can’t last forever