16 February 2018

South Africa: SONA 2018 - Ministers Must 'Jack Up' After Ramaphosa's Anti-Corruption Promise

Ministers had butterflies in their stomachs when President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined how he would deal with corruption at state departments in his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Friday.

This was according to Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who spoke to News24 Politiki shortly after the address.

Mapisa-Nqakula told News24 political editor Mahlatse Mahlase that Ramaphosa's promise that he would visit government departments meant that ministers had to "jack up".

"He actually went on to say he will be visiting each one of the departments, which to me talks to issues of oversight, and I guess what that means is that we have to jack up, all of us. At this point in time, all of us had butterflies in our stomachs. I really believe that, if there were things I was not doing right, I really need to jack up," she said.

In his call for public servants to become agents for change, Ramaphosa said that, in the next few months, he would visit every national department to engage with the senior leadership to ensure that the work of the government was effectively aligned.

"I will also find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that the state, in its entirety, responds to the pressing needs of our people. Our country has entered a period of change. While change can produce uncertainty, even anxiety, it also offers great opportunities for renewal and revitalisation, and for progress," Ramaphosa told the gallery.

Mapisa-Nqakula added that the speech was positive and empathised the theme of renewal and hope.

"The programmes, the plan which he outlines, for me talks to a clear programme, mobilisation of South Africans...Restore confidence of government."

She further added that Ramaphosa was hard about tackling some of the issues.

"He is clearly not a populist, very clear on what he wants to do in dealing with issues of corruption, including dealing with issues of maladministration and abuse of resources," she said.

In his address, Ramaphosa spoke of decisive intervention to stabilise and revitalise state-owned enterprises.

He said recent actions taken at Eskom to fire executives implicated in state capture and corruption and appoint a new board was just the beginning.

"Government will take further measures to ensure that all state-owned companies fulfil their economic and developmental mandates. We will need to confront the reality that the challenges at some of our SOEs are structural - that they do not have a sufficient revenue stream to fund their operational costs."

On the commission of inquiry into state capture, Ramaphosa said that it was critical to ensure that the extent and nature of state capture was established to restore public confidence in state institutions.

"The commission should not displace the regular work of the country's law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting any and all acts of corruption," he said.

He promised to deal with the leadership crisis at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that the institution was stabilised and added that he would strengthen vital institutions, such as the South African Revenue Service.

NPA head Shaun Abrahams has been widely criticised for his inaction in the prosecution of those implicated in state capture.

Source: News24

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