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'We can't watch as the country sinks', says Ramaphosa

In an exclusive interview, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa condemns state capture and calls for action, not words

25 June 2017 - 00:18 By Bongani Madondo

Sunday Times (ST): Does South Africa need a woman leader right now, or a leader who will restore its morale, rouse the nation and economy back to its feet?
Cyril Ramaphosa (CR): It should not make a difference. The country needs leaders, not even one leader but leaders, men and women, who will be sensitive and competent to deliver to the needs of our people. That is key. South Africa does not need a woman president right now. It needs a capable, uncaptured leader to restore the hope and work with the entire nation to restore the spirit and commitment and obligation the party has not for the African National Congress but the nation.ST: The president is himself implicated in a specific case ... allegedly enabling the Gupta family to capture the government.
CR: That's what one hopes the investigation will get to the bottom of; that is within the broader mandate it gets given.
ST: So we are asking him to constitute a transparent commission to investigate, among others, himself?
CR: The president is constitutionally obliged to institute that inquiry. He has said it on record that he sees nothing wrong in instituting it. He should also be aware the world is looking closely at this. It's a process that cannot be abused by anyone; if it is, people would pick that up immediately.
ST: Have you had that conversation with him?
CR: Yes, I told him: "Man, you have to do it right!" We trust he will. We have to give him the benefit of the doubt.ST: What is it about this country that renders it low-hanging fruit for such brazen and naked abuse?
CR: For now all we have are damning allegations. But the phenomenon of state capturing is not unique to South Africa. What makes it unpalatable is that the country led by the ANC is still in the process of redressing decades of apartheid injustice. And then we have foreigners here involved in this sort of thing. We cannot be party to that.
ST: Has the ANC lost its historical revolutionary vision?
CR: The party and this country still have people who are saying: "Enough is enough." People are saying: "This is not us; we don't want to be defined as captured people." Our media is robust, the people are questioning. They cannot be taken for fools.
ST: What is your understanding of radical economic transformation?
CR: Our economy is skewed to benefit a small minority. There is no doubt that we need to transform it quite radically.
Even the deputy MD of the IMF, David Lipton, came here last year and said: "Look here, fellas, your economy is highly concentrated in the hands of a few players, you've got to deconcentrate." He meant a situation like that impedes competition, creates high prices of everything.
The cost of living in our country is extremely high, and that is [caused] by a lack of competition. Take a look at retail and the financial and banking sector. Only four banks dominate, and the cost of banking is extremely high simply because there's no competition. That squeezes the air out of these sectors and benefits only them.ST: Given a chance to lead it, what would your plans for the economy be?
CR: It's more about the ANC's economic policies. Everybody agrees we have the most fantastic economic policies. But what is lacking is implementation. What we need to do is to make sure that we harness all the resources, human and material, with a view to giving our people better lives. In the National Development Plan (NDP) we clearly have a defined real policy framework that is a lodestar to lead us forward.
ST: And here I was thinking the NDP has long been a dead duck.
CR: The NDP is the clearest policy framework for improving the lives of our people. What [people] complain about is implementation. All we need to do is to give our plans wings and legs.
ST: How do we do that?
CR: We need to make sure that the country's resources are not wasted, stolen, defrauded, and are properly utilised and harnessed. For me four things are key to altering our people's lives:..

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