South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ramps up anti-corruption regulations

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, on Monday, announced his new anti-corruption policy, the “National Implementation Framework towards the Public Service”, which aims to build a state free from corruption to better serve people, where appointments are made on merit.

He said the framework was approved by the Cabinet in November of 2020 and is now underway.

When he was elected, he said that he was set on “building an efficient, a capable, and ethical state free from corruption.” Through this new policy, he wants to build a staff of men and women that are “professional, skilled, selfless, and honest; who are willing to uphold the values of the South African Constitution.”

South Africans share a mutual disdain for corruption but there is still no way to ensure that this culture of anti-corruption will continue beyond Ramaphosa.

The South African government has been riddled with challenges to integrity, competence, and accountability. In fact, South African political life has held corruption as its main feature for the better part of 350 years, and it will take decades and concerted effort to defeat it.

Ramaphosa’s party, The African National Congress, or ANC, has been unable to renew itself from years of crippling policy paralysis. Former president Jacob Zuma ran on the platform to address corruption and exploitation of black grievances but was largely unfulfilled promises and Zuma was removed from office in 2018 due to corruption.

Ramaphosa, who was previously his colleague and Deputy President, has been distancing himself from Zuma, calling his nine years in office, “wasted”. He is now trying to prove himself a credible and uncorrupted leader, despite his own previous corruption allegations. In 2018, President Ramaphosa told parliament that he had not received election campaign donations from a controversial local company, but in 2019, it later emerged that that was a lie. Ramaphosa later apologized.

Ramaphosa announced that he is going to continue on the path of reforms including occupation-based competency assessments.

“Professionalization is necessary for stability in the public service, especially in the senior ranks.” He also expressed intent to insulate government departments from politics, so that public funds can be accounted for and maintain stability in administrative leadership. The Framework also emphasizes the need to hold employees accountable for irregularities and misappropriation of funds.

“The public service does not belong to any single party,” said Ramaphosa. “Nor should it be the domain of any particular interest group. It should be a law unto itself.”

He said that “all too often, people have been hired and promoted to key positions for which they are neither suitable nor qualified… which contributes to nepotism, political interference, and mismanagement.”

This new Framework could be more of the same ineffective policies of the ANC or it could be a reinvigoration of the party and create more trust in the ANC, and the South African government as a whole.

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