Debate by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, MP during the Budget Vote of the Presidency
9 June 2022
President of the Republic, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa;
Deputy President of the Republic, His Excellency David Mabuza;
Honourable Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula;
Members of the Executive;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Today we have heard a lot.
We have borne witness to people in glass houses hurling stones, indeed hypocrites get offended by the truth.
Mr President, you were correct when you said in the State of the Nation Address: “None of our efforts to revive our economy will succeed if we do not tackle the scourge of corruption once and for all. This is a defining moment for our democracy, it is defining moment of our renewal project. Our success to revive the economy is depended on our success in the fight against corruption and crime. We dare not fail nor dither.”
The theatrics of narrow party politics is not what the country needs right now, the country is in distress due to the high unemployment rate, the high cost of living, and high Petrol prices due to the war in Ukraine.
A sitting like this should be a festival of ideas amongst all political parties on how to put the country on an economic growth trajectory, create employment and deal with the high level of crime.
This is precisely why South Africans have voted for us to be in the house, to solve societal problems.
Sadly, opposition political parties are not focused on the nation's strategic goals on their input, but on their obsession to remove the ANC from power. The elections will come in 2024, and you will campaign, but for now, let us all confront the challenges facing society.
The President has already called for a social compact amongst all partners in our country to achieve economic growth and create employment. As a country, we must focus on the strategic national objective, which is the realisation of the political and Socio-economic ideals enshrined in the Constitution.
Across the globe, governments involved in reform face resistance and sometimes outright rebellion by those who do not want the wrongs of the past to be corrected, they want to continue to act with impunity.
What we are dealing with as the collective leadership of government was long observed by Deng Xiaoping in China when he started to crack on corruption as modern-day adventurism.
Deng Xiaoping said the following about this phenomenon;
“What we are dealing with as the collective leadership of the Party is a new form of adventurism, where Party members and leaders believe that they can try to overthrow the State or steal from the State with absolute impunity.
They don’t want to face consequences for their wrongdoing. When they are caught, they try to discredit the State institutions and even try to turn the Party against the State.
The work of the 6th administration as led by President Ramaphosa has led us to this phenomenon. Joel Netshitendze famously said the beneficiaries of state capture will not go down without a fight. I dare say they will not succeed, our institutions have proven over time that they are resilient.
The 6th administration as led by the President has allowed the law enforcement agencies to do their work without any fear, favour or prejudice. They are attending to matters irrespective of any political affiliation, the facts and the law guide them.
The SIU is clawing back on malfeasance and corruption, the HAWKS and the ID are at work. The era of impunity is gone, and the rule of law is reigning supreme.
This debate should have been about how this administration is delivering on the pronouncements made by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the State of Nation Address delivered earlier this year, ala the debate was defocused from issues that affect the people.
During the state of the nation address, the President was criticised for vacancies in the security cluster. These positions have been filled and now the goal post is shifted.
This President is focused on building capable institutions, he has appointed the ID head, head of SAPS, the head of the defence force and the head of State Security.
In this sixth administration, prosecutions on matters which relate to the theft or tampering with essential infrastructures, like copper cables, have been prioritised. This crime has often had the effect of plunging our communities into darkness, train stoppages and lack of network connectivity. Thus far, 172 cases were prosecuted, and 251 accused were convicted.
To mention just a few;
In the matter of State vs David Jenkins case: The Cape Town Regional Court sentenced Jenkins to an effective term of 13 years imprisonment after convicting him of 25 counts of theft.
In the past week, the Newcastle Magistrate Court sentenced 5 accused to 10 years imprisonment for theft of essential public infrastructure. The Bronkhospruit Regional Court sentenced two accused in the same period to 15 years of direct imprisonment. These are issues that should occupy public discourse as they affect the wellfunctioning of rail, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.
We must not lose sight of the fact that we are not dealing with a situation where the money that was stolen is not from the fiscus, this money was stolen from the farm of the President, he is a victim of crime.
President has committed to the nation that he will cooperate with the investigation. He is not evading nor interfering with the work of law enforcement agencies. He has no history of such interference. The President also has a right to be treated fairly by the system, his side of the story must be heard, the basic principle of audi al patrem must also be applicable to him.
When the constitution says everyone is equal before the law, it also means a President must also be treated fairly like any other citizen. Due process must be allowed to take its cause. We must not jump the gun, we must be patient as we would have demanded if it was us involved.
Our constitution and resilient institutions will not enable any form of interference. True to their hypocrisy, people who are charged and are currently attending trials in the courts of Republic are lecturing us about stepping aside.
They cannot explain what is the position of their party when a member is criminally charged and called upon to present a plea in court. That is because they do not have one.
The very same individuals who stand as accused in a court of law for recklessly firing a firearm publicly, want to tell us that this President is a danger to society.
The country should be careful of people who live by double standards.
Other than mastering the art of cheering and clapping hands for their Supreme leader, the ground forces are sticking to their role of being true ground forces, they must learn to internalise democracy and hold their own accountable.
In the final analysis, South Africans are not interested in a spectacle, rather they are interested in state institutions that work. From law enforcement, municipalities, to state owned enterprises, people want to see value for their taxes.
That is what we collectively owe society.
The Investigative Directorate has brought seminal corruption cases within a period of three years before court. We welcome the arrests of the two Gupta brothers by authorities in the UAE. As the South African government we will continue to cooperate with our UAE counterparts to ensure that the fugitives from justice are brought to book, they will account in our courts.
We know that extradition by its nature can be a protracted legal process but we want to assure South Africans that the Guptas will definitely return to our shores to face trial. Same goes with Mr Chipiliro Gama, well known by the name (Sheperd Bushiri) whose matter will soon be heard in the courts of Malawi.
Unlike our friends on the extreme left and right, the EFF and the DA, the President has not shied away from accountability even in his own party, the ANC.
The President has volunteered to present himself before the Integrity Committee of the ANC, in the ANC, stepping aside is an outcome of a process, if you do not have a plausible explanation and then are charged, you must step aside voluntarily or you get suspended.
Despite several allegations against the supreme leader of the EFF in the public domain, the supreme leader has never presented himself to any structure of the EFF as he is the Alfa and Omega of the cult. On the allegations of their involvement in the VBS heist, they claimed the allegations were “fabricated intended to destroy the party.” No one in their party stepped aside.
Today when President Ramaphosa says he will corporate with the investigation of the police, he is called to step aside.
The President understands that given his position, he should be beyond reproach hence he has made this commitment and has taken the nation to his confidence on the matter.
When the DA was confronted with mass resignations of its councillors as a result of allegations of racism at the City of Cape Town, this is what Honourable Mazzone said: “The timing of the resignations seems to have been an attempt to detract from the allegations contained in the Bowman Gilfillan reports, which implicate De Lille in covering up alleged corruption.” To date no one has been held accountable. In fact the DA has no record of denouncing racism, instead they embrace and practice it. Again why would the DA not want to afford the same rights to the President, allow due process to take its course.
Whatever our political affiliation or ideological orientation, we dare not lose sight of the strategic objectives as a country to achieve the political and socio economic objectives as enshrined in the constitution.
Today I stand before the nation and say no wind will move us from a course which is aimed to restore the rule of law and achieve socio economic transformation.