Opposition Accuses South African President’s Family of Getting Rich Off Coronavirus

South Africa
MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images

Members of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s family and other relatives of ruling African National Congress (ANC) leaders have been profiting off coronavirus emergency relief, according to an article published by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Saturday.

“[O]ur recent news has been awash with family members of the highest-ranking ANC politicians creaming profits off Covid19 [Chinese coronavirus] tenders,” DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote. “President’s Ramaphosa’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, landed a R6 million [$349,000] contract to modify taxis in Gauteng [province] to comply with Covid19 [coronavirus] regulations.”

In addition to the president, other leading members of the ANC have allegedly granted dubious coronavirus contracts to their spouses and children. Steenhuisen continued:

President Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe Diko, landed a R125 million [$7,267,421] contract to supply PPE [personal protective equipment].

ANC secretary-General Ace Magashule’s sons, Tshepiso Magashule and Thato Magashule, landed Covid19 procurement contracts in the Free State [province] to the value of R2.7 million [$157,000].

Former cabinet minister Minister Nomvula Mokonyane daughter, Katleho Mokonyane, landed a R3 million [$174,445] PPE contract despite her company only being six months old at the time.

According to Steenhuisen, the recent revelations of corruption within the ANC are likely just “the tip of the iceberg so far,” given “the [rapid] rate at which these stories are breaking.”

“If this is what we know of the involvement of the families of high-profile ANC members, one can only imagine what the picture looks like further down the line in ANC-run provinces and municipalities where tender corruption has become the very reason to run for public office,” the opposition party leader wrote.

“[T]he lure of billions of Rands [South African currency] of emergency Covid19 [coronavirus] spending was always going to be too hard to resist, despite the president’s solemn promises in March. The rest of the world has to deal only with the coronavirus pandemic, but South Africa has to simultaneously deal with its very own epidemic of ANC corruption,” the MP lamented.

Steenhuisen referred to Ramaphosa’s vow at the beginning of South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak in March to “act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from … the [coronavirus] crisis].”

“I have directed that special units of the National Prosecuting Authority be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption. We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail,” the president claimed in a nationally televised speech on March 23.

The DA leader said the ANC’s allegedly corrupt handling of the coronavirus crisis lies in stark contrast to the opposition party’s efforts to manage emergency relief in an open and honest manner.

“Compare this to the DA-run Western Cape [province known for the port city Cape Town], where all Covid19 [coronavirus] procurement is now published online in a monthly report to ensure 100 percent transparency. The difference between the DA in government and the ANC in government could not possibly be more pronounced. It is the Capable State vs the Predator State,” Steenhuisen wrote.

South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak currently ranks as the fifth-worst in the world, although an undercounting of official cases in countries such as China, North Korea, and Iran likely skews this ranking. On July 24, one of South Africa’s top epidemiologists told scientific journal Nature that he expects the nation’s caseload to exceed one million.

“Since there are communities in South Africa where social distancing and frequent hand washing is not feasible, mainly in informal settlements, I am expecting the number of cases to rise substantially, possibly exceeding a million,” the chair of the South African health ministry’s Scientific Advisory Committee, Salim Abdool Karim, predicted.

At press time on Monday, South Africa officially recorded 511,485 cases and 8,366 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus, although health authorities suspect that the official numbers are much higher due to insufficient testing and a lack of transparency on the part of Ramaphosa’s ruling ANC party.

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