President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum on Africa is hosted. He is currently having a meeting with other heads of state who are attending the event. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday told the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa it was imperative that the countries on the continent fight corruption, in order to pave the way for more foreign investment that would help to ease inequality.

Ramaphosa was asked what he believed was necessary to unlock foreign direct investment.

He said there was a need to strengthen governance, but immediately added a legacy of corruption and detailed how it had damaged South Africa.

"We need to address a problem that has always beset the continent, the problem which is corruption," he told a plenary sesssion of the 28th chapter of WEF on Africa.

He added that South Africa faced a "huge challenge" in the form of state capture - the sprawling rent-seeking scandal in which businessmen used political influence to subvert state tender processes and loot billions from the fiscus.

Ramaphosa stressed that the corruption drew in not only government departments, but the revenue service, the national prosecuting authority, police officers and international companies, whom he described as "having the best names in the world, the best pedigrees".

"They also participated in the corruption that our country is trying to untangle," he said in reference to international consultancies and auditing firms found to have colluded with corrupt businesses.

It was crucial now, Ramaphosa added, that those involved were punished.

"For those found to have participated in corrupt activities there should be consequences. Because corruption in the end is stealing from the poor, it is stealing the resources that should ordinarily go to the people... there should be jail time."

He said once these steps were taken, it would become easier to put in place the other requirements that investors looked for. Ramaphosa listed these as lessening bureaucracy and improving infrastructure, noting that the latter "is going to require enormous resources".

African News Agency (ANA)