Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appearance at the state capture inquiry this week will mark the culmination of three years of oral evidence heard by Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Ramaphosa is expected to give evidence and be questioned on matters falling within the terms of reference of the commission, including ANC matters and testimony related to his terms as president and deputy president.
The Commission of Inquiry has set aside Wednesday and Thursday for the president to first finish his evidence as ANC leader. He will then move on to his role as former deputy president, and as the current head of state.
Ramaphosa was due back at the inquiry in May, but his appearance was pushed back when Zondo announced that the lifespan of the Inquiry had been extended.
In June, the Commission applied to the High Court to request an extension until the end of September to complete its work and provide a report. Justice Zondo said the commission had identified five or six more witnesses who needed to be called to give oral evidence.
Ramaphosa’s appearance was pushed further as, “it is only proper that the president is the last witness to give evidence”.
Ramaphosa first appeared in April where he told the inquiry that the alleged state capture (during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure), had divided the ANC.
Ramaphosa said the party first got wind of the state capture phenomena in 2011 during an ANC NEC meeting. This was when Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that he was told by the Guptas that he would be appointed as a minister. The president said, at that time the issue of whether state capture existed and what it should be termed, was highly contested within the ANC and the broader society.
Ramaphosa further said that as other allegations surfaced about the Gupta family’s involvement in the appointment of government officials, the discussion around state capture began dominating ANC NEC meetings. “The issue of state capture was hugely contested in the ANC and what should be done contributed to divisions in ANC structures including the NEC, government, Parliament and other areas of society,” he said.
The president said the corruption issue continued to plague the party resulting in divisions, vote-buying, gatekeeping and open conflict between factions of the party. The concerns about corruption grew more serious ahead of the party’s 54th national conference in December 2017.
He conceded that the ANC’s cadre deployment strategy had fallen victim to opportunism and factionalism, and admitted that the ANC had acted too late against state capture.
Cadre deployment has been criticised for poor service delivery due to quality of individuals appointed to certain government positions - people without the necessary qualifications, skills and experience to serve.
Ramaphosa said it only became apparent that certain appointments were made for ulterior purposes "some time" after it had already happened.