Ramaphosa: Profiting from a disaster is scavengers action
President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again expressed concern about rampant corruption in efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said those responsible for siphoning State funds would be dealt with decisively and harshly.
He said it was “difficult to understand the utter lack of conscience that leads a businessperson who has heeded the call to provide lifesaving supplies during a devastating pandemic to inflate the price of a surgical mask by as much as 900 per cent”.
“Nor can one explain why a councillor would stockpile emergency food parcels meant for the poor for their own family, or why another councillor would divert water tankers en route to a needy community to their own home.
“It is impossible to discern what drives an entire family whose member stole funds meant for unemployed workers to go on a spending spree, buying cars, paying for renovations and beauty treatments, and even tombstones,” Ramaphosa said.
The president added that attempting to profit from a disaster that was claiming many lives was the action of scavengers.
“It is like a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey,” he said. “As we find ourselves in the grip of the greatest health emergency our country has faced in over a century, we are witnessing theft by individuals and companies with no conscience.”
Ramaphosa also said he would receive interim reports every six weeks on the cases at various stages of investigation and prosecution, saying when investigations yielded evidence of criminality, they would be speedily referred for prosecution.
“We will not allow public funds hard-earned by loyal taxpayers or donations by patriotic companies and individuals and the international community to vanish down a black hole of corruption.
“Those found to have broken the law to enrich themselves through this crisis will not get to enjoy their spoils, regardless of who they are or with whom they may be connected,” he said.
However, the country’s biggest labour federation and the African National Congress’s (ANC) alliance partner – the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) appears to be losing its patience with President Ramaphosa and has described his administration as feeble.
The organisation, which was the first to campaign for Ramaphosa to become ANC president before the party’s 2017, conference said the “dysfunction” in the presidency is alarming.
With multiple allegations of corruption through tender fraud against leaders of the ANC in government, Cosatu has placed the blame on Ramaphosa’s door.
Cosatu has been concerned about workers’ exposure to Covid-19 as a result of the procurement crisis in government, which is riddled with irregularities.
Many state employees have had to work without personal protective equipment (PPE). - AFP