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LETTER: The Titanic was an unfortunate analogy Mr President

Paul Hoffman takes issue with President Ramaphosa’s responses at the SAHRC inquiry into the July 2021 insurrection

04 April 2022 – 17:24 Paul Hoffman https://spkt.io/e/3930234

During his evidence before the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) inquiry into the July 2021 insurrection, when asked about Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane’s comment in March that if the country continued on its current path it would be on a trajectory to becoming a “failed state” with “no confidence in the government, anarchy and absolutely no control in society”, President Cyril Ramaphosa answered:

“We are not a failed state yet and we will not get there. We are not a failing state because we are rebuilding the capacity of the state and we are taking steps every day to rebuild that capacity. We admit we lost state capacity and it is like turning the Titanic around — it does not happen in one day.” He said the National Prosecuting Authority was being “capacitated” and “emboldened” to fight corruption. “The resolve is there to fight corruption and to turn the state around”, he said.

Three points arise:

  • The Titanic was not turned in time and ignominiously sank in icy mid-Atlantic waters on April 15 1912 — an unfortunate analogy, Mr President!
  • The dysfunctional “hollowed out” NPA is infested with “saboteurs”, cannot possibly be recapacitated any time soon, and will not timeously attract the type of specialists required to counter serious corruption. When its Scorpions unit was disbanded in 2009 it had over 500 staff and plans to grow to 2,000; the new Investigating Directorate has 17 permanent staff, about 100 seconded staff, and 91 new recruits are planned (if they can be found, which is a big “if”) — a monstrously underwhelming “recapacitation”.
  • The president’s own party resolved to instruct his cabinet, in August 2020, to urgently to establish a new body that ticks the boxes for a Chapter Nine Integrity Commission to fight corruption, as advocated by Accountability Now for a decade, and nothing has been done to implement the instruction. Why not, when this is the most obvious step needed to prevent the failure of SA as a state?

Paul Hoffman, SC

Director, Accountability Now

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