President Cyril Ramaphosa, who opened the National Anti-Corruption Dialogue in Johannesburg, has called on all of South Africa to stand up against corruption, saying “this is a societal fight”.
“Corruption has wounded South Africa’s democracy in a number of ways and has shaken its people's faith in a number of institutions, but a society-wide response in a concerted effort to end corruption in all its forms is what is needed,” he said.
This dialogue, led by the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council (NACAC) that oversees the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), was also attended by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Police Minister Bheki Cele, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi, civic organisations, and others.
The National Anti-Corruption Dialogue, being held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, Johannesburg, is a multi-sectoral meeting of minds to develop and discuss the anti-corruption strategy.
Addressing the start of the two-day dialogue, Ramaphosa said, “As we consider the great achievements of our democracy, we must be forthright about one of our greatest failings: corruption.”
He said that while the State Capture Commission was charged with investigating specific activities at a certain time in South Africa’s history, it revealed that corruption was a far broader societal challenge.
“It therefore requires a society-wide response that marshals all our resources and capabilities in a concerted effort to end corruption in all its forms,” he said.
Part of the work of the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council is to provide advice on the implementation of the policy and institutional reforms contained in the recommendations of the State Capture Commission.
The State Capture Commission made recommendations for the establishment of new institutions to safeguard the State against capture.
These included the establishment of an independent public procurement anti-corruption agency and a permanent commission on corruption and state capture to create an alternative platform for accountability should the legislature fail in its oversight duty.
These and other proposals were the focus of an intensive process of research and consultation led by the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Ramaphosa said that over the last five years, government has invested significant resources to rebuild the law enforcement agencies and other bodies that were devastated by State Capture.
“While there is a long road ahead, the fight against corruption is gaining momentum.”
Ramaphosa reported that so far nine separate cases, involving 47 individuals and 21 companies, have been brought to court.
Freezing orders amounting to R14 billion have been authorised by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, and a total of R5.4 billion has been recovered and returned to the State.
Government departments, municipalities, and professional bodies were taking disciplinary action against individuals identified by the commission.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has collected R4.9 billion in unpaid taxes as a result of evidence brought before the State Capture Commission.
“While there is a long road ahead, the fight against corruption is gaining momentum. This dialogue is a valuable opportunity to mobilise all key stakeholders behind this effort, from civil society, business, and labour to academia, government, and political parties.
“We meet here as diverse constituencies, but with a common purpose. We are here to identify the further measures we need to take to build a South Africa that does not allow for corruption or capture. We are here to strengthen our shared determination to build an ethical society founded on the values of our democratic Constitution,” Ramaphosa added.