Ramaphosa threatens decisive harsh action against COVID-19 scavengers
AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in the face of corruption allegations faced by a senior official in his office and others in his party, the ANC, again threatened harsh and swift action against those involved in corruption in the R500-billion emergency COVID-19 relief package.
In his weekly “Letter from the President”, Ramaphosa said corruption during a national disaster was a particularly heinous crime. The perpetrators, he promised yet again, would be dealt with decisively and harshly.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko is on special leave after it emerged that her husband, Thandisizwe, had secured a R125-million tender to provide personal protection equipment in Gauteng. The Dikos have denied that they were paid. They said the contract was cancelled. However, The Sunday Independent has published claims that the couple was paid R80-million through another business entity.
The procurement scandal has also implicated Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Bandile Masuku and his wife, Loyiso, who is an MMC for Corporate Affairs in the City of Johannesburg. The Masukus have also taken special leave from their respective jobs.
It has also emerged that the families of top ANC officials, Ace Magashule, the secretary-general and Nomvula Mokonyane, the former Gautent Premier and ex-cabinet minister, benefitted from COVID-19 tenders.
Ramaphosa acknowledged the anger that the corruption stories have created among South Africans. “These stories have caused outrage among South Africans. They have opened up the wounds of the state capture era, where senior figures in society seemed to get away with corruption on a grand scale,” he said.
He sought to reassure South Africans by pointing out the work done to dismantle corrupt networks that had infiltrated government, state owned companies and law enforcement agencies.
“We have rebuilt vital institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority, SA Revenue Service and the Hawks. Through the establishment of bodies like the Investigating Directorate in the NPA, we have strengthened the hand of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes. And through the establishment of the SIU Special Tribunal, we have increased our capacity to get back funds stolen from the state,” he said.
The President also chose strong words in writing about the immorality of stealing from money meant safe lives.
“Corruption during a national disaster is a particularly heinous type of crime, and perpetrators are going to be dealt with decisively and harshly. It is difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a businessperson who has heeded the call to provide lifesaving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900%.
Nor can one explain why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home. It is impossible to discern what drives an entire family whose member stole funds meant for unemployed workers to go on a spending spree, buying cars, paying for renovations and beauty treatments, and even tombstones. Attempting to profit from a disaster that is claiming the lives of people every day is the action of scavengers. It’s like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey. As we find ourselves in the grip of the greatest health emergency our country has faced in over a century, we are witnessing theft by individuals and companies with no conscience.”