Lukanyo Mnyanda Editor: Business Day
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Revelations at the Zondo commission will be painful for the ANC, but in the end, the process will prove to be cathartic for the country and will ensure state capture  never happens again, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

Addressing a select group of local and international business leaders at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF's) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Ramaphosa said the commissions that are laying bare the rot that infected the country over the past decade would be allowed to complete their work.

At the end, the country’s law enforcement agencies would be expected to do their work “without favour or discrimination”. 

“At times the truth will be very painful; painful for the governing party” but it was a “process we've got to go through”, he said.

“You will see it going through convulsions of pain and suffering at times, but SA is going to be a lot better after this process.” 

His words came as the country was riveted by allegations made at the commission of inquiry into state capture by Angelo Agrizzi, a former executive at Bosasa, a facilities company that managed to secure contracts with the government worth billions of rand. Agrizzi claimed the company paid bribes to state officials, including ministers. 

Agrizzi also told the commission that environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane was on the company's payroll.

His testimony is the first heard at the commission that does not involve the Gupta family, whose actions prompted its establishment.

So far, the governing party has said that it is not on trial, despite mounting revelations implicating some of its senior members.

In 2018, Ramaphosa admitted that a payment made on behalf of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson into a trust account was used to fund his campaign to become president of the ANC — after first telling parliament that the money was paid to his son, Andile Ramaphosa, in terms of a valid consulting contract with Bosasa, which he had personally seen.

“The state capture commission is tacking corruption and coming up with the truth,” Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

“This is a cathartic moment for SA. It’s almost a moment of truth, but it should also be a moment that leads to redemption where we are able to hear the truth as it comes out.”

The president spent much of his speech making the case for investing in the country, dedicating a substantial portion of it to reassuring leaders that SA’s land reform programme would be implemented in an orderly manner in line with the constitution.

He also acknowledged that the country had lost its way during the reign of his predecessor, though he did not mention Jacob Zuma by name.

"We’ve gone through a challenging number of years — nine years to be exact —  where we seemed to lose our way, where we deviated from the path that you traditionally would have expected us to traverse,” he said.

That had exacerbated policy uncertainty and inconsistency, which in turn worsened levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

“We’ve come with one single message to Davos, to say to the world that SA is on the path of renewal and growth.”

Ramaphosa’s announcement in July that the ANC would seek a change in the constitution to explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation threatened to derail much of the optimism that had initially accompanied his rise to the presidency.

It helped spark a sell-off in the rand to more than two-year lows at a time when the currency was also under pressure from volatility in emerging markets amid crises in Turkey and trade disputes between China and the US.

“A number of you have raised concerns about land reform, and we want to assure everyone that we are going to handle the land reform issue in the best responsible manner,” he said.

“We are going to ensure that it’s done in accordance with our constitution, the rule of law and that we will not allow any land grabs.”