South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he decided not to make public a broad scheme of crony appointments and alleged corruption conducted during the term of former President Jacob Zuma.
Ramaphosa, who served as Zuma’s deputy president from 2014 to 2018, defended his public silence, saying while he thought about resigning because of the situation, he claimed if he had “we would’ve had no ability to resist some of the excesses that were taking place.”
“Without some measure of resistance, there would’ve been even fewer impediments to the unfettered expansion of the state capture project,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa’s statement came during a judicial commission hearing looking into a system of graft that has become known as “state capture,” where allies of Zuma would be put in charge of state-owned enterprises, which then they allegedly bled for billions of dollars. He said his newfound willingness to speak about the corruption scheme is “better late than never.”
Ramaphosa, who defeated Zuma for the presidency in late 2017, isn’t getting praise from some South Africans for his long silencer.
Analyst William Gumede, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the president “sat there quietly for a decade, saying nothing. Where’s the moral courage?
”Saying that one is working from inside to change things, really, that’s just indirectly supporting corruption, abetting corruption," he said. "And that’s one of the reasons why corruption has become systemic.”
Johannesburg-based international relations analyst Leaza Jerberg said the president's words must result in action.
“I think we are all confident that he (Ramaphosa) is anti corruption, but there needs to be more actual prosecution and action,” he told VOA.
“He’s done a lot in the sense of fixing institutions, and that’s so important when it comes to fighting corruption," said law professor Narnia Bohler-Muller. 'So he’s made some really good appointments, and strengthened the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).”
The commission’s “state capture” hearings are slated to conclude at the end of September.