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President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to crackdown on corruption when he was elected as ANC leader in 2017. Finally, his words have been put into action, with the first major arrest. Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo has appeared in court and analysts see this as a sign that there will be more arrests of ANC figures who have had their snouts in the feeding trough of state capture. As Reuters reports, Bongo, who served as a minister under former president Jacob Zuma, is accused of interfering with an inquiry into corruption at state power utility Eskom. Bongo allegedly asked the inquiry’s evidence leader to go on sick leave in 2017 to frustrate its progress and offered ‘an open cheque bribe’. Bongo is considered to be low-hanging fruit. Nevertheless, this move on him is likely to be welcomed by international investors and ratings agencies, which have been looking for signs that Ramaphosa is going to make good on his pledge to clean up government and state-owned entities. – Jackie Cameron
South Africa starts post-Zuma graft crackdown with arrest of former minister
By Paul Vecchiatto and Antony Sguazzin
(Bloomberg) – South Africa’s police have finally acted on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to end the corruption that’s stalled growth in Africa’s biggest economy almost two years into his rule. Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo was arrested in a case related to bribery and state-owned companies.
Bongo appeared in a court in Cape Town Thursday to face a charge of corruption.
“This is the first big arrest,” said Claude Baissac, the head of Eunomix Business and Economics Ltd., which advises on political risk.
“It’s demonstrating that at long last some criminal charges are going to be brought against African National Congress members and clearly pretty senior ones.”
More than R500bn ($34bn) was stolen from state companies and government departments during the nine-year rule of President Jacob Zuma, according to Ramaphosa. While he has promised to fix the economy by curbing state costs and splitting up the indebted state power utility, a demand for arrests has been a constant refrain in the nation’s media and on radio talks shows.
A judicial panel on graft during the Zuma era, headed by Deputy Justice Raymond Zondo, has seen evidence of widespread government graft televised daily for months. Bongo was a close ally of Zuma’s.
In addition to Bongo, the Hawks, a specialist police unit, arrested the chief executive officer of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which oversees municipalities. Several other people were also arrested. Bongo’s “detention is a welcome sign to investors concerned about the plight of governance in South Africa,” said Indigo Ellis, head of Africa research at Verisk Maplecroft, adding that his career has been mired in controversy.
“He is low-hanging fruit in a deep-seated culture of corruption.” Bongo was freed on bail and his case was postponed until Jan. 31, the National Prosecuting Authority said in an emailed statement. Calls to his phone seeking comment weren’t answered.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
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