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African governments must 'be brave' to fight corruption, Ramaphosa tells WEF

Sep 05 2019 19:42
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

African countries must rid themselves of corruption and maladministration in order to reposition themselves to be more attractive for investment, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

The president was one of eight African heads of state participating on a WEF panel about the way forward for the continent. The forum, which kicked off on Wednesday, sees business leaders and government officials from across the continent converging in Cape Town to discuss economic issues in the face of the fourth industrial revolution.

Ramaphosa was meant to address delegates at a plenary earlier on Thursday, but was pulled away to address protesters at Parliament who were pleading for government to intervene in violence against women.

Ramaphosa briefly commented on the protests at the panel discussion on Thursday evening, and said government was working to address gender-based violence. "We want to empower young women to give them a chance at a much better future," he said.

When asked what leaders on the continent should prioritise going forward, Ramaphosa said that corruption on the continent must be eradicated.

Accountability

He discussed South Africa's challenge with state capture and said it was important to strengthen institutions which have been weakened, adding that there should be "accountability and consequence management" for those implicated in corruption.

"Where those found to be guilty of participating in corrupt activities, there must be consequences," he said. "There must be jail time for those who are found to have participated in corrupt activities," he added.

'Bad things'

"We found corrupt activities were not just embarked on by people in the state sector, but businesses – including internationally based businesses with the best names and best pedigrees, which saw a gap and participated in corruption," Ramaphosa said.

The commissions of inquiry that have been underway, some of which are still ongoing, have uncovered "bad things" that happened in the past, he said.

"Governments must be brave enough to counter the issue of corruption, to rid their countries of corruption because corruption in the end, is stealing from the poor," Ramaphosa added.

Once corruption is addressed, then leaders can fully focus on policy implementation to the benefit of the people in their countries, he said. This includes improving ease of doing business for companies to come into African markets, developing infrastructure and diversify economies.

"If we do this, economic development can happen at a higher level," he said.

"The future is great and if there was ever a time Africa could be said to 'be on the rise' – this is the time. This is Africa's century and we want to utilise it to good effect," Ramaphosa added.

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