/ 23 October 2022

Ramaphosa responds to Zondo recommendations, makes Investigating Directorate permanent

Cyril Ramaphosa Gcis
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a raft of interventions that will be made in response to the state capture commission, including making the Investigating Directorate permanent and overhauling the country’s public procurement system.

Ramaphosa announced the interventions in a speech on Sunday night, four months after Chief Justice Raymond Zondo handed over the final instalment of his commission’s report. 

Zondo and his team spent four years collecting evidence and compiling the report, which spanned several volumes, covering the alleged capture of various state institutions by the Gupta family and other actors. 

The Zondo commission made over 350 recommendations, 202 of which were for criminal and other investigations. 

On Saturday, the president submitted a 76-page document to parliament outlining the cabinet’s response to Zondo’s recommendations. The response to parliament comes six years to the month since former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her state of capture report, which led to the establishment of the Zondo commission.

Reflecting on the deleterious legacy of the state capture era, Ramaphosa noted: “Few people could have imagined the depths to which our country would be dragged by greed, selfishness and abuse of power. Few people could have imagined that from among the leadership of our public institutions, from within our business circles, from among our public representatives and public servants would emerge a network of criminal intent.” 

Ramaphosa noted that since he became president in 2018, his administration had laboured to re-capacitate state institutions, like the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) in an effort to tackle corruption. 

Since the start of the commission, Ramaphosa said, significant resources had been made available to rebuild the capacity of law enforcement agencies to respond effectively to Zondo’s findings. 

To date, the Investigating Directorate has enrolled 26 cases, declared 89 investigations and 165 accused persons have appeared in court for alleged state capture offences. 

Law enforcement agencies, the president noted, have been granted freezing or preservation orders to the value of R12.9-billion and a total of R3.9-billion has been recovered. Sars has collected R4.8-billion in unpaid taxes thanks to the commission’s work.

Moreover, analysis by the Financial Intelligence Centre has identified a further 595 individuals and 1044 entities that may be implicated in the syphoning of funds through state capture.

Zondo’s recommendations would be the foundation for a fundamental review of South Africa’s anti-corruption architecture, Ramaphosa said.

“Abuse of the procurement system was one of the main ways that taxpayer funds were illicitly diverted to private interests instead of providing value to the public,” the president said, adding that government supports and accepts the commission recommendations on procurement reform.

Lifestyle audits

There will also be lifestyle audits for the president, his deputy, ministers and their deputies, which will be managed by the director general in the presidency and undertaken by an independent external service provider.

“The lack of compliance, transparency and accountability in the appointment of board members not only enabled the capture of these companies, but also contributed to a decline in their operational and financial performance,” the president noted.

The government, he said, accepts the commission’s recommendations on the need for a process for the appointment of boards of state-owned enterprises that is not open to manipulation. 

Other interventions include a review of the Protected Disclosures Act and the Witness Protection Act to better protect whistleblowers, as well as improving the oversight of intelligence agencies to protect them from political interference. 

“If we are to successfully end state capture and turn the tide on corruption,” Ramaphosa said, “the actions set out in my response to the state capture commission will require dedicated co-ordination and effective implementation. Progress will be closely monitored and regularly communicated. All sections of society will be engaged and involved in the implementation of the actions to give effect to the recommendations of the commission.”