The National Director of Public Prosecution, Shamila Batohi, was seen as a breath of fresh air at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) upon her appointment over a year ago.
The so-called new dawn of President Cyril Ramaphosa was seen as a period where corruption will be tackled head-on by those in the law enforcement agencies who have no political appetite but just the zeal to see justice being served to the people of South Africa.
However, with the level of corruption reaching new height under this administration, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africans are once again crying out for help. Corruption robbed livelihoods of many South Africans during Jacob Zuma’s era, where he looted the state resources with his friends and family after having emasculated the NPA under the likes of Shaun Abrahams and Mxolisi Nxasana.
As things stand now, the state resources are under serious looting, with those close to the ruling party once again benefitting from the economic opportunities brought by this global pandemic, which has resulted with the public showing their frustrations to President Ramaphosa over the level of corruption in the country.
Everyone agrees that the time for long speeches, investigating committees, and fruitless promises against corruption is over. It is time to take serious actions against the looters. Ramaphosa has been making promises after another about sending criminals to jail and he cannot afford once again to stand on the podium and make similar promises. While he promised that he will not do what his predecessor did in terms of emasculating the officials in the criminal system, however, he should demand more action from Batohi and Godfrey Lebeya, the Hawks head, about their work progress thus far.
The President cannot arrest and prosecute his comrades or criminals in the country, that is the job of Lebeya and Batohi. However, without meddling in their operation, Ramaphosa, through Parliament, can demand the progress reports from the two individuals he had appointed to fight corruption and crime under his rule. It has been over a year since Batohi has taken over office from Abrahams and the public is growing weary of her lacklustre and snail pace in prosecuting the criminals, especially the politically-connected bunch.
It is the political criminals, especially those close to the national and provincial executives, who have benefitted from state tenders on personal protective equipment in the fight against Covid-19 and Batohi and Lebeya should be setting a good example by arresting and prosecuting these criminals. Ramaphosa needs to put more pressure on Batohi and Lebeya to really act against corruption, arrest the criminals and prosecute them as speedily as possible.
While Ramaphosa has factional politics of his party to deal with, however, for him to earn his second-term, he really needs to fight corruption against his own comrades in order for him to have public support for his bid for a second term. He must not worry too much about pleasing his comrades in the ANC, but it is the people of South Africa who will see him at the Union Buildings once more after the 2024 elections.
However, for that to happen, Ramaphosa really needs to put more pressure on those he appointed in the criminal system to act without fear and favour and as a matter of urgency against corruption. South Africans are tired of empty promises against the scourge of corruption under the ANC-led government and Ramaphosa should start showing them why they gave him the majority vote in last year’s polls.