Providing testimony at the Zondo Commission on State Capture, former Eskom CEO, Brian Molefe implicated President Cyril Ramaphosa in state capture when he was Deputy President of the country. Molefe claimed that Ramaphosa effectively used his political influence to assist Glencore in securing lucrative contracts with Eskom. According to Molefe, this was due to the then-Deputy President’s role as the Chair of the government’s War Room on Eskom, whilst being the Chair of Glencore as well. Glencore supplied coal to Eskom at the time. Glencore and Ramaphosa have since rubbished Molefe’s claims. However, a cloud of doubt will hang over the President’s head, unless he soon appears at the State Capture Commission to refute those claims under oath. In a series of interviews with various news networks, Ramaphosa stated that he will respond to the claims in due course. He owes it to the country to do this or he will irreparably undermine his government’s efforts to root out corruption in the state.
The claims by Brian Molefe follow a report by the African National Congress’s (ANC) Integrity Commission in December 2020, which was critical of President Ramaphosa’s refusal to appear before it regarding CR17 bank account statements and allegations of vote buying at the ANC’s elective conference in Nasrec in December 2017. Ramaphosa cited the matter being before the courts as a reason for his non-appearance. The President has challenged the Public Protector’s report which found that he had misled Parliament regarding Bosasa’s Gavin Watson’s donation to his CR17 campaign.
Both these instances could further undermine the President’s pledge to deal with corruption in South Africa. To always ensure credibility in his message, he should be quick to deal with any corruption allegations or claims that may arise against him. His defenders will be quick to point out that the allegations against the President are part of a so-called plot to undermine his efforts to fight corruption. However, the sooner he appears before the State Capture Commission and the ANC’s Integrity Commission to address those allegations made against him, the better. This will ensure he is taken seriously in his bid to fight corruption.
The President stated, in his January 8 statement, that the party’s Integrity Commission will be strengthened to better deal decisively with corruption. It should be noted that the Integrity Commission is not a court of law and will always be caught wanting on that front. His call for those implicated in acts of corruption to immediately account to the Integrity Commission will ring hollow if he does not appear before the Commission in the same manner that Deputy President David Mabuza and Secretary General (SG) Magashule appeared before the Commission. In his defence, he might claim that he has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, however, like the SG, a matter before the court did not stop him from appearing before the Integrity Commission.
The President needs to lead from the front. As a leader he will constantly have mud thrown at him. He needs to be able to wipe himself off and focus on the greater goal. Corruption has become endemic in South Africa and to uproot it will take a lot of will and effort.
Written by Calvin Matlou