South Africa—and Ramaphosa—Have an ANC-Sized Corruption Problem

South Africa—and Ramaphosa—Have an ANC-Sized Corruption Problem
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa looks on during the presentation of the Zondo Commission’s final report, Pretoria, South Africa, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

When Raymond Zondo, now South Africa’s Chief Justice, submitted the final volume of his report on state capture in June, he also placed a number of uncomfortable issues in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inbox. The report laid bare the scale of corruption presided over by the ruling African National Congress, or ANC, throughout the 2009-2018 presidency of Jacob Zuma.

State institutions such as the South African Revenue Service had been compromised, and state-owned enterprises—particularly South African Airways, the electricity utility ESKOM and the Passenger Rail Agency—were looted and brought to “almost total ruin” by senior ANC figures and ANC-appointed personnel. This included then-President Zuma himself. The report found Zuma acted in concert with private business interests—specifically the Gupta family, a wealthy and powerful Indian-born family with massive commercial and industrial holdings in South Africa—to help secure their control over the Finance Ministry and various state-owned enterprises, or SOEs.

Ramaphosa was given a four-month period to respond to the report and put forth a coherent plan to prevent any repeat of the kinds of state capture it described. He duly submitted a 76-page document to parliament on Oct. 22 outlining the government’s response, and he subsequently addressed the nation to highlight its key themes.

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