The era of state capture is now over – but the country continues to face an uphill battle against corruption, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that last week marked the end of the scheduled hearings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, more than 1,000 days after the first witness testimony was heard.
This is a significant milestone that “brings us ever closer to a reckoning with one of the most ruinous episodes in the history of our democracy”, he said.
However, the president said that state capture did not end of its own accord: “It was brought to an end by the concerted actions of South Africans from all walks of life, working in various areas to restore the values of our constitutional democracy.
“It is up to all of us to ensure that these practices are never allowed to happen again,” he said.
“While we can say that the era of state capture is over, we have not defeated corruption. Fraud and corruption remain pervasive and deeply entrenched in both the public and private sectors. Although it may not be on the scale of state capture, such criminal activities cost our country greatly, weaken our institutions and deprive South Africans of many basic needs.”
Ramaphosa added that the damage done to the country by state capture is deep and that the country will feel its effects for many years to come.
“We can expect that the outcomes of the Zondo Commission will immeasurably strengthen these efforts. They will give us an opportunity to make a decisive and lasting break with the state capture era.
“Much work lies ahead, and many challenges must still be confronted. But we are on our way to building a society that is free from the evils of state capture and corruption.”
Ramaphosa said that the government has spent the last few years rebuilding bodies like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and others.
He said it has also set up new structures, like the Investigating Directorate in the NPA to prosecute high-level corruption and the SIU Special Tribunal to recover stolen public funds.
“We have improved our crime-fighting capacity through the establishment of the Fusion Centre, which brings together various law enforcement agencies to share information and coordinate the investigation and prosecution of crime.
“We have changed the leadership at several strategic state-owned enterprises and begun the process of restoring them to financial and operational health. We are working towards a new SOE model that promotes greater transparency, accountability and sustainability.
“Much of this work is ongoing. There are areas where progress has been far slower than we would have hoped, and these are now receiving closer attention.”