President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cyril Ramaphosa tells Zondo commission: I contemplated resigning over state capture

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Aug 11, 2021

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has detailed why he chose not to resign as deputy president when evidence of state capture became increasingly evident.

Ramaphosa, who appeared at the Zondo Commission on Wednesday, said he and others in the government had grappled with how to respond to the evidence of state capture.

He said many of these corrupt activities had taken place while he was unaware.

As with many in the country, he said he became aware when media reports revealed the extent of the corruption.

Ramaphosa maintained that he had four options before him; resign; speak out; acquiesce and abet; keep quiet and remain silent, or remain and resist.

The president said he chose to remain and resist.

"The final option, which was what I chose, was to remain in my position as deputy president – not to resign, not acquiesce and not to be confrontational – but to work with others in the executive to resist abuses and bring about change where we could and to sustain the work of social and economic transformation.

"This meant ‘staying in the arena’, with the challenges, limitations and frustrations inherent in doing so, but it was the course of action that had the greatest likelihood of bringing state capture to an end, restoring the institutions of State and defending our democracy," Ramaphosa said in his opening address at the inquiry.

Ramaphosa also dealt with the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December 2015 and his replacement with ANC MP Des van Rooyen.

The president said he was very concerned about the market reaction to this decision by former president Jacob Zuma. He told ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, that he would resign.

Ramaphosa detailed how the ANC swayed Zuma to remove Van Rooyen and replace him with Pravin Gordhan.

Zuma gave into those calls and Van Rooyen was removed after a few days in office.

Ramaphosa also distanced himself from the removal of Gordhan as finance minister in 2017 and his replacement with Malusi Gigaba.

In a move to reassure the inquiry on the actions taken by the government so far to deal with state capture and corruption, he detailed action he had taken since taking office in 2018.

He listed the appointment of the Nugent Commission to probe affairs at the SA Revenue Services, he also listed the appointment of Shamila Batohi as National Director of Public Prosecutions.

He also listed efforts to change the State Security Agency, which now functions from within the Presidency.

"To this end, the implementation of the recommendations of the High-Level Review Panel chaired by Dr Sydney Mufamadi is at an advanced stage.

"I am assured by the leadership of the relevant agencies that illegal operations identified both in the Panel Report and the investigations conducted by the State Security Agency leadership are being identified and terminated. Investigations continue on these, and other wrongs within the SSA, and in collaboration with law enforcement agencies," Ramaphosa said.

The inquiry continues.

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Political Bureau

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