Corruption and accountability: Herman Mashaba takes on Cyril Ramaphosa in open letter

The People’s Dialogue founder Herman Mashaba says South Africans have little hope that action will be taken against looters of the Covid-19 fund.
Image: Sunday Times.

Herman Mashaba has penned a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, expressing his dismay at the lack of accountability and the government’s effort to counter corruption.

The former city of Johannesburg mayor responded to Ramaphosa’s comments made last week during his address to the nation, where he said he was “concerned” by allegations of  looting of the Covid-19 relief fund.

During the address, Ramaphosa said, “What concerns me and all South Africans, are those instances where funds are stolen and misused, where there is corruption and mismanagement of public funds … We have established a collaborative centre to prevent, detect and prosecute Covid-19 related corruption.”

He said the investigations would look into the alleged looting of food parcels, social relief grants, funds for the procurement of PPE and the UIF Covid-19 scheme.

In his letter, Mashaba says Ramaphosa gives South Africans little hope to believe that action will be taken against looters and perpetrators of corruption.

Here are quotes from the letter:

Corruption is more than concerning

“This is not concerning, Mr President. Concerning is how we feel about getting older every day, it is how cold it is in the mornings, or the lack of sleep we get at night. These issues are concerning. The looting of public funds intended to provide relief to people in the Covid-19 crisis is despicable. It is an act of the lowest forms of life and it is criminal.”

I tackled corruption, and so should you 

“I know a thing or two about tackling corruption. In my three years as mayor of Johannesburg, I established a world class anti-corruption unit with many of the people who were sidelined from the Scorpions, NPA, and Hawks for doing their job a little too effectively. This unit relentlessly pursued corruption, investigated over 6,000 cases worth R35bn and affected over 800 arrests.”

Mind your language, Mr President

“I declared corruption public enemy number one. I described the people who looted as snakes and spoke frequently of the need to hunt them down. When you say corruption is concerning, it is a cue to your law enforcement agencies, the country and the looters that you don’t take the issue too seriously.”

Accountability is unlikely

“It is statistically more likely for a young person to become a drug addict than it is for corrupt officials in your government to face any form of consequence. Between the Hawks, SAPS and NPA, a case has not even been brought to court as a symbolic warning that those who continue to loot should even slow down.”

Covid-19 relief fund 

“Money is being looted before the measures you packaged as a stimulus package were even accessible by the people it was intended for. UIF applications, food parcels and other measures are being stolen while your government cannot even get these measures of relief to South Africans.”

BY CEBELIHLE BHENGU

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