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Ramaphosa urged to take action against 'corrupt' ministers

12 February 2019 - 19:55 By THABO MOKONE
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sona debate in parliament on Tuesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sona debate in parliament on Tuesday.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa came under pressure in parliament on Tuesday to act against some of the ministers accused of corruption at the state capture inquiry.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme took the opportunity during the Sona debate to challenge Ramaphosa to prove his commitment to fighting corruption by suspending implicated ministers, including Gwede Mantashe and Nomvula Mokonyane.

EFF leader Julius Malema made a similar challenge to Ramaphosa when he addressed the house.

Mantashe and Mokonyane, along with deputy correctional services minister Thabang Makwetla and ANC MP Vincent Smith, are alleged to have received financial and other benefits from controversial government service provider Bosasa.

The company, renamed African Global Operations, is said to have received irregular tenders worth billions of rands.

The allegations against these individuals - and numerous others - at the Zondo commission surfaced during damning testimonies by high-ranking former Bosasa staffers.

"Walk the talk, Mr President: show South Africa just how serious you are about fighting corruption," charged Van Damme.

Van Damme challenged Ramaphosa to suspend, investigate and institute lifestyle audits on Mokonyane, Mantashe, Makwetla and Smith.

"If not, you will remain the president who had no backbone and continued turning a blind eye to corruption by those in his party - no different to your predecessor, Mr Jacob Zuma," she said.

"It is this very culture that is ruining our country - the notion that one must protect members of their parties at all costs, even when implicated in wrongdoing."

Defending the ANC, deputy justice minister John Jeffery turned the tables on the DA, saying it was a party led by a "strawman" in Mmusi Maimane, who was incapable of reigning in Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

He accused the DA under Maimane of making proposals that showed a poor understanding of the constitution. "I think former DA federal chairperson Wilmot James said it best when he said, and I quote, 'I don't think Mr Maimane understands the constitution at all,'" said Jeffery.

Referring to Maimane's recent submission to the Zondo commission of a list of people it wants to appear before the inquiry, Jeffery continued: "The DA and the honourable Maimane have also been extremely vocal about prescribing to the Zondo commission about who should be called and how the deputy chief justice should be running the commission.

"I trust that you can therefore expect the honourable Maimane to ensure that Helen Zille appears before the commission, given that the DA accepted donations worth R300,000 from the Gupta family," he said.

Jeffery said at least the ANC was taking action. "The difference between the ANC and DA is this: we're doing something about corruption, while they're just making promises. While the hollow man must talk, the other man is in the arena," he charged.

"While others may follow the hollow man and may fall for the masquerading of the scarecrow, we trust that the majority of people of our country will continue to have faith in President Cyril Ramaphosa, the man in the arena, and the ANC, the party that put him there."