We will rise or fall on ongoing graft purge

The South African people have spoken, and they have chosen incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa to continue the leadership of South Africa. The ANC has been South Africa’s leading party for 25 years, since Nelson Mandela led the country out of apartheid. As an old member of the party, Ramaphosa has been there from the beginning as a negotiator and activist fighting the historic injustices facing the country’s blacks.

After a long hiatus to work as a businessman, Mr Ramaphosa was elected to lead the country last year following Jacob Zuma’s nine year term. His re-election is good for Africa; and good for the fight against corruption.

The atrophy of state-run institutions under Zuma as a result of corruption weakened the government, as well as citizens’ trust in it. But the citizens have responded to Ramaphosa’s main message; they are hungry for a different kind of politics. They will no longer accept cronyism, they will no longer accept graft, and they have put their trust in Ramaphosa’s promises.

The question remains: will he fulfill their expectations or is he going to be another disappointing African politician, elected on a wave of popularity but forgetting about ordinary citizens once the power is securely vested in his hands?

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Two years ago, Kenyans ushered in a new kind of politics, whose rumblings are now being felt by our South African brothers and sisters. We voted in Uhuru Kenyatta as President for a second term, trusting that his anti-corruption crackdown is going to change the status-quo.

Expose and eliminate

It is taking time but we are getting there. Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji is working tirelessly to expose and eliminate rampant corruption that has inflicted Kenya for as long as we and our grandparents can remember. Corrupt institutions, both private and public, as well as the individuals who run them, are beginning to understand that they have no choice but to acquiesce. Big banks, government ministries, smugglers, shady business joints - nothing is immune. For decades, they have been able to flagrantly avoid taxes, bribe officials, and keep a controlling hand in the market - but no more.

Would Ramaphosa have won without his strong anti-corruption message? Probably, but his message was heard loud and clear in South Africa and beyond.

His victory shows the ANC is still strong enough and is not going anywhere anytime soon, but its supporters are yearning to make history the wrongs of the past decade. Ramaphosa has some nemeses within his own party - Zuma’s loyal cronies. But these matter less and less, because he is gaining the most important allies of all: The people. They have spoken, and let’s hope he listens.

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We Kenyans will remember Uhuru’s second term as a period of corruption purging, a time in which real transparency was introduced to a political system once known for duplicity.

Kenya is improving governance and we hope opportunities are going to get better and better for our children.

For the meantime, it looks as though Ramaphosa is following suit. He has already appointed new leaders in the tax authority and the national prosecutor’s office.

The commission he appointed to investigate the state capture inquiry has already begun its probe into Zuma’s not-so-legal business collusions. It appears that the entire nation is on edge, expectation is high; action must follow.

Difficult history

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Like most of the African continent, both Kenya and South Africa have suffered through a difficult history since the defeat of colonialism, marred by corruption, dishonesty and ethnic tensions between neighbours.

Now, as we approach the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, the signs of a new era are visible and shining. This is the era of the people. The voice of the farmer in the West, the nomad in the South, and of the urban businesswoman in our capital is loud and clear.

-The writer is an investment banker and the Kenivest chairman

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Cyril RamaphosaANCNelson MandelaSouth Africa