The African National Congress (ANC) did not do enough to fight corruption and state capture, according to party President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa made this acknowledgment at the State Capture Commission on Wednesday. He says it was only in hindsight what was taking place became clear.

The commission spent much of the day questioning him on the ANC’s Cadre Deployment policy.

In his opening statement, Ramaphosa said he was not at the State Capture Commission to make excuses for the governing party or defend the indefensible.

“The ANC has taken this position knowing that the organisation itself would be placed under great scrutiny and that the process of examining these matters will be difficult and painful for the ANC. Nevertheless, the ANC maintains that this commission is a necessary part of the broader social effort of ending all forms of state capture and corruption.”

Ramaphosa said the party did not take much cognisance when the phenomenon of state capture was first raised by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at a 2011 National Executive Committee meeting. Mbalula said he had been informed of his cabinet appointment, by Ajay Gupta, before it took place.

He says subsequent interventions by then-Parliamentary Whip, the late Jackson Mthembu and then-Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, were inadequate.

“It had shortcomings in living up to the expectations of the people of South Africa in relation to enforcing accountability and engendering a culture of effective consequence management as the leadership of the ANC duly elected at the 54th Conference. We acknowledge these shortcomings as an organisation.”

State Capture Inquiry | ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s opening statement:

Questioned about the ANC’s development and deployment policy, Ramaphosa defended it saying it is not unique to the party and could not be faulted in principle. The policy has been blamed for breeding conditions for state capture, promoting factionalism, and poor service delivery.

“Cadre deployment cannot be faulted in principle. It’s a common feature of democratic practice around the world and I think if properly described and not diluted through various other intents and forms, it is a useful process used by governing parties around the world to make sure that the mandate that they are given by the populace is carried out. But we would concede that there are weaknesses in its practical implementation, that makes the case for greater clarity both within political parties and the state.”

On the issue of a number of appointments made to SOE boards by Former President Jacob Zuma, allegedly with the aim of capturing the state, Ramaphosa pleaded ignorance. He said it was possible to make appointments without going through the Deployment Committee as he himself as state president had done in error and some were made before he became party deputy president.

“We were not alive to the fact that there was state capture and that there was something horribly wrong going on. So, some of these appointments would have happened in that course of time with hindsight, then (we) became aware that there was a common thread and if you joined the dots you discovered that there was really something amiss going on.”

Ramaphosa will return to the stand on Thursday to continue his testimony.

State Capture Inquiry | Commission hears evidence from the President of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa 2: