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.