Anger at corruption dents faith in South African president, ANC before poll
SEE ALSO :Netizens condemn SA xenophobic attacksRamaphosa has set up a special investigating unit to deal with the allegations emerging at the enquiries and has promised that those implicated in corruption will face the law. An unspecified number of investigations are already under way, with some awaiting a final go-ahead from prosecutors, according to police. “We need to root out corruption from the face of South Africa,” Ramaphosa told a campaign event in the Sandton financial district of Johannesburg. Some voters say they want more done, and quickly, about a problem economic development minister Ebrahim Patel has estimated could be costing the government sh190bn a year. Africa’s most industrialised country slid to number 73 in Berlin-based Transparency International’s global measure of perceived corruption in 2018, from 38 in 2001. SLIDING SUPPORT The ANC, late President Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement, has governed uninterrupted since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Some political analysts said such scandals were unlikely to deprive the ANC of its core base, which is mostly rural and poor, and votes on issues that affect livelihoods, such as social grants. But the allegations could drive away wavering voters and hit the party’s urban middle-class support, which may turn instead to the main opposition Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, the analysts added. Ramaphosa’s ability to appeal to such swing voters will be an important measure of the ANC’s success in the election. ANC spokesman Legoete said some had tarnished the name of the party for political gain, and allegations against its members should be put to law enforcement agencies who could deal with them properly. GUPTA CONNECTION The public protector, South Africa’s anti-graft watchdog, investigated three complaints, including from the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, alleging that Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta - who headed a large conglomerate with assets ranging from mining to media in South Africa - used their ties to the former president to amass substantial wealth and wield undue power. It ordered an enquiry be set up to properly probe these allegations, describing the circumstances around some of them as “worrying”. The Guptas deny any wrongdoing, lawyer Krause said. Zuma also denies wrongdoing, his spokesman said. Separately, a public inquiry is reviewing allegations, denied by the Gupta brothers, that they unduly influenced Zuma regarding political appointments of cabinet ministers and the awarding of government contracts. Zuma, who is fighting separate corruption charges related to a Sh220bn arms deal in the 1990s, has not been charged with any crimes related to his ties to the Guptas. A total of Sh2bn was to have been invested in the Vrede dairy farm over three years combined with contributions worth Sh1.59bn from the project’s private partners. The result was supposed to have been a farm that produced 40,000 litres of milk from 500 cows. Instead, prosecutors say roughly Sh1.55bn of the government’s money ended up in Gupta-linked accounts and paid for a lavish family wedding. The Gupta family denies the accusations. Ramaphosa’s appointment was followed by raids on Gupta businesses and their Johannesburg mansion. Officials seized assets worth millions of dollars, but the brothers have yet to appear at any inquiry and have left the country. The Democratic Alliance candidate for premier in the Free State, Patricia Kopane, has called for charges related to the Vrede project to be reinstated. A spokesman for the ANC-led provincial government said it was committed to sound financial management, would cooperate with all investigating agencies to tackle corruption where it exists and ensure it abides by the law. Some legal experts say complex financial crimes are hard to investigate and prosecute, and many law enforcement agencies lack skilled staff and resources or are hamstrung by political interference. In Vrede, Ncongwane’s patience has run out. “There is no hope, not even a little bit,” he said, shaking his head, arms folded across his chest. “I don’t even have hope in the court. I just walk past it as if it is not there anymore.”
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