Why I did not resign in protest against state capture: Cyril Ramaphosa

President tells Zondo commission he had five options but only one was viable

11 August 2021 - 12:30 By mawande amashabalala
President Cyril Ramaphosa says resigning would have entrenched state capture and corruption in the public service to deeper levels.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says resigning would have entrenched state capture and corruption in the public service to deeper levels.
Image: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday revealed that he elected not to take the option to quit as deputy president of the country during the state capture years because that was not going to be helpful.

Ramaphosa acknowledged that state capture crimes could not be stopped by those who were opposed to them electing to quit. If anything, he said, such a move would have entrenched state capture and corruption in the public service to deeper levels.

Ramaphosa said he had five options to demonstrate his opposition to state capture when he was deputy president, but most were simply too risky.

Remain in the executive, resist mildly and hope to turn things around

This was the only option Ramaphosa saw as strategic and a safe move in the mission to “end state capture”.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I am certain this was the necessary and correct course of action I took. Others may not agree, but for me this was the best course of action I could take,” said Ramaphosa.

“Fundamentally this approach enabled the far-reaching changes the country has gone through over the past three years, including the disruption of the state capture project and rebuilding of damaged institutions.”

The president said aggressive resistance would have been suicidal as it would have led to his removal from the executive.

Resign  

The president said this was an easier option to choose but would have been futile.

“While I would have earned a lot of praise from many quarters, this action of resignation would have significantly impaired my ability to contribute and bring about an end to state capture,” said Ramaphosa, adding that this would have been a short-lived victory had he elected to step down.  

Even if he had convinced “like-minded individuals” in the executive to follow him and reign en masse from the executive, this would have strengthened the hand of the state capture proponents. 

Speak out publicly

Ramaphosa said because he was only second-in-command, there was a limitation to how far he could go in speaking out if he wanted to fight from within.

“A more confrontational approach would most likely have led to my removal from office, with the same consequences as resignation in that my ability to effect change would have been greatly constrained, if not brought to an end.”

Go along and be part of the state capture gang

“This I would not and could not do. It would have been a violation of my principles and a profound betrayal of my responsibility to the government, my own organisation and the people of SA.”

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