Pressure on Ramaphosa to suspend ministers named in graft probe

Wednesday February 13 2019

South Africa ministers

South Africa's Environmental Affairs Minister Ms Nomvula Mokonyane (left) and Mining minister Mr Gwede Mantashe. The two are accused of receiving bribes. PHOTOS | AFP 

By PETER DUBE
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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has come under pressure from the opposition who want him to suspend two members of his Cabinet implicated in a government contracts scandal running into billions of rand.

Environmental Affairs Minister Ms Nomvula Mokonyane and Mining counterpart Mr Gwede Mantashe were named as having received bribes from the utilities management company Bosasa at the ongoing judicial commission probing allegations of government corruption under former president Jacob Zuma.

The firm is reported to have received 10,000 government contracts through bribes paid out to influential state officials.

Following the accusations, opposition parties have called on President Ramaphosa to act against the ministers accused of bribery.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Phumzile van Damme challenged President Ramaphosa to prove his commitment to fighting corruption by suspending the two.

“Walk the talk, Mr President. Show South Africa just how serious you are about fighting corruption. If not, you will remain the president who had no backbone and continued turning a blind eye to corruption by those in his party - no different to your predecessor, Mr Jacob Zuma," Ms van Damme said in Parliament on Tuesday.

The DA says the ministers cannot be trusted to serve in the best interest of South Africans given the bribery allegations against them.

“Ms Mokonyane undoubtedly played a central role in aiding and abetting the capture of our state. The president must do the right thing and suspend her without any delay as she must be held accountable for her actions,” said DA’s Natasha Mazzone.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema made a similar challenge to President Ramaphosa.

“You can't have people highly implicated, Mr President, in your cabinet and you come and tell us you are committed to fight corruption,” Mr Malema said.

The allegations against the two ministers – and numerous other government officials – at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry surfaced during damning testimonies by former high-ranking Bosasa employees.

“We can't have a minister facing such allegations. It's about time Ramaphosa gave us a cabinet we can be proud of. Retaining controversial ministers makes a mockery of his promise to rid the country of corruption,” said Richardson Mzadume, a political commentator.

Several top government officials have since been arrested.

The commission is headed by Judge Ray Zondo and is probing a web of murky deals involving government officials, the wealthy Gupta family and state-owned entities during Mr Zuma's nine-year reign.

Mr Zuma was forced to resign on February 14, 2018 after multiple graft scandals.

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