President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that the government is taking steps to resurrect key institutions like the the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
Ramaphosa told a briefing with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association (PGA) in Cape Town that his administration acted quickly to stop the rot in in these institutions.
The president added that he will not interfere with judicial processes, saying that a president should never do that.
“This obviously is an ongoing process because it took years to weaken them and put them under severe negative pressure,” Ramaphosa said. “And now it requires persistence and it also requires constant vigilance.
“It’s not going to be a one-day process and many of us, obviously, wanted it to be done and dusted in just one day. The weakening happened over a period, as you well know. And you were at the centre of revealing quite a lot of what happened,” he told the journalists.
He said he understood the strong public pressure for those implicated in state capture to face justice because it would send a strong signal that the “era of impunity is over”. He said it will build and rebuild public confidence in the country and help restore trust in law enforcement institutions.
“Now, as the president, and also as members of the executive, even yourselves as the media, we cannot and should not be making the decisions on investigations and prosecutions.
“Our role is to ensure that the relevant institutions are effectively resourced. Our role is to ensure that they are strengthened, they are supported, they are not weakened, they are not undermined and that they perform their constitutional mandate without any fear, prejudice or favour.
“This is what our constitution dictates. And I have often said that the day, as people are urging now, you know, you must take action, you must prosecute and all of that – and I’ve said the day a president does that, it is time to run for the hills.
“Because it basically means that the president acts as judge and executioner and everything else, and our constitution does not prescribe that.”
He said for this to succeed a “strong social compact for change” must be built.
He also said the Zondo commission into state capture must be allowed to finish its work.