The last findings of a four-year probe into state corruption in South Africa under ex-leader Jacob Zuma, published Wednesday, suggested that current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, could have acted against some of the allegations against his predecessor.
Receiving the report, Ramaphosa, who was then deputy to Zuma, described the graft as an “assault on our democracy”.
The report was handed to Ramaphosa at his Pretoria offices by the head of the investigating panel and chief justice, Raymond Zondo.
The pillaging and mismanagement of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises during Zuma’s nine years in office, when Ramaphosa was his deputy, has been dubbed “state capture”.
And whether he could have acted to curb the graft, “the wealth of evidence before this commission suggests that the answer is yes”, the report said.
“There was surely enough credible information in the public domain… to at least prompt him to inquire and perhaps act on a number of serious allegations. As the Deputy President, he (Ramaphosa) surely had the responsibility to do so.”
Ramaphosa did not immediately respond to the contents of the report, but said it “provides us with an opportunity to make a decisive break with the era of state capture”.
Ramaphosa now has four months to act on the panel’s recommendations.
Taking over after Zuma was forced to resign over corruption, Ramaphosa came into office declaring the anti-corruption fight a priority of his administration.
Ramaphosa in 2019 estimated that corruption, could have cost South Africa around 500-billion-rand (31.4-million U.S. dollars), then an amount equivalent to about a tenth of the GDP of Africa’s most industrialised economy.
The publication of the final report comes as Ramaphosa is himself embroiled in a scandal following a robbery at his luxury game and cattle farm two years ago.
The scandal risks derailing Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term as ANC president ahead of the 2024 general election. He says he is a victim of “dirty tricks” and “intimidation” from those against his anti-corruption fight.