Can it be? Action against the state capture crooks at last?
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced the formation of a new investigating directorate, which will take the form of the disbanded Scorpions, to investigate and prosecute those implicated in state capture allegations.
The new directorate will see investigators working closely with prosecutors as more allegations emerge at the Zondo Commission, the Mokgoro Commission and the Nugent Commission.
The Scorpions were disbanded in 2009 after the dominant faction within the ANC accused the unit of being used to settle political scores.
Ramaphosa, delivering his opening address to parliament, said the directorate would identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption.
“The directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacity from within government and in the private sector under an investigating director reporting to the NDPP,” he said.
On her first day in office last week, new NDPP head Shamila Batohi said she would immediately set up a specialised team to tackle state capture.
When the president mentioned her at the beginning of his address, he added: “Watch this space.”
Ramaphosa emphasised that revelations at the different commissions of inquiries should be followed by swift prosecutions.
“The action we take now to end corruption and hold those responsible to account will determine the pace and trajectory of the radical social and economic transformation we seek,” he said.
He further said in his address that the revelations at the Zondo commission of inquiry were “deeply disturbing”.
“They reveal a breadth and depth of criminal wrongdoing that challenges the very foundation of our democratic state,” Ramaphosa added.
He said while the various commissions would make findings, the criminal justice system must take action.
Ramaphosa kicked off the delivery of his second Sona with a smart move to neutralise the EFF after they threatened to disrupt his speech over allegations that he had received R500,000 from controversial government service provide Bosasa.
In a clear charm offensive, Ramaphosa had members of the EFF and the entire house chuckling when said he and DA leader Mmusi Maimane have agreed to sing the Thuma Mina song for Malema should he win this year's elections, which he announced would be held on May 8.
Malema had threatened to ask Ramaphosa to come clean about his son’s business deals with the controversial Bosasa Group. This comes as the opposition accused Ramaphosa of misleading parliament when he told the house that a R500,000 payment by Bosasa to a trust account was part of a contract his son has with the company. He later withdrew the response when he was informed the money was a donation to his ANC presidential campaign.
Turning to the intelligence services, which critics say were weakened under former president Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa said a high-level review panel led by former minister Sydney Mufamadi had recommended several measures reconstitute the State Security Agency.
He said the measures would include the re-establishment of a state security council led by himself as well as domestic and foreign intelligence services.
“On the basis of the report and recommendations of the High Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency, which was chaired by former minister Sydney Mufamadi, I will soon be announcing a number of urgent steps to enable the reconstitution of a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.
“Among the steps we will take to reconstitute a professional national intelligence capability will be the re-establishment of the National Security Council chaired by the president in order to ensure better co-ordination of the intelligence and security related functions of the state as well as the re-establishment of two arms of our intelligence service – one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign intelligence.”..