Friday, 13 August 2021

Johannesburg: President Cyril Ramaphosa has applauded the commitment and courage of the many witnesses who appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption.

 “While there have certainly been systemic failures, governance lapses and errors, the fundamental reality is that state capture happened because certain individuals each made a deliberate decision to engage in acts of corruption and criminality,” President Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

In his closing remarks at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption, President Ramaphosa said despite the evidence presented before the Commission, and despite the excellent work by many investigators, academics and the truly outstanding journalists, the country may never know the true cost of state capture.

“We may be able to establish how much of public funds has been stolen, by how much costs for public goods and services may have been inflated, and what it has cost to investigate these cases and prosecute those responsible,” President Ramaphosa said at his second and last day of him giving testimony at Commission.

President Ramaphosa said it might be possible to quantify the infrastructure and services that could have been provided to the people of South Africa with the funds that were stolen and wasted as a result of state capture.

“We could quantify this in terms of hospital beds, commuter trains, houses, social grants, water reticulation, maintenance of roads and any number of other public goods and services that state capture robbed our people of.

“But what is more difficult to measure is the broader cost to our economy and our society. It is difficult to measure the effect of state capture on business and consumer confidence on the loss of investment. We similarly cannot quantify the impact of state capture on our standing and image internationally,” said the President.

State capture said the President, led to the departure from the public service of highly qualified and experienced people, either because they refused to be part of it or because they presented a threat to those who were part of such activities.

“It is likely that state capture also discouraged many talented young people from joining government, which has significant implications for the public service of tomorrow. By weakening our security forces and law enforcement agencies, the actions associated with state capture placed the security and integrity of our country at risk.

“Perhaps the most devastating and lasting cost of state capture and corruption is its effect on the confidence of the people of South Africa in the leaders and officials in whom they placed great trust and confidence and responsibility,” President Ramaphosa said.

Erosion of confidence in the rule of law

The President said state capture has damaged people’s confidence in the rule of law, in public institutions, in law enforcement agencies and, even to some extent, in the democratic process.

“The people of South Africa look to this Commission to uncover the truth, to identify those responsible and to recommend measures that should be taken against those who are responsible and to prevent it from happening again,” President Ramaphosa said.

The work of the Commission he said will help to make a clear and decisive break with the corrupt practices that have cost the country so much.

“It is important to acknowledge that we would not have reached this point and this Commission would not be sitting now had it not been for the determined actions of South Africans, many of whom marched in the streets of our country protesting against corruption and demanding a clean government.

“It was the people of this country who, in their various formations, stood up to what they saw as acts of gross wrongdoing and abuse of power,” the President said.

He applauded the commitment and courage of the many witnesses who appeared before the Commission to give an account of what went wrong.

“Having born witness to the crimes of state capture, the worst thing we can do is to allow it to ever happen again. We have a shared responsibility to leave the era of state capture firmly behind us, and to act together to prevent corruption in all its forms.” said President Ramaphosa.