South African president appoints anti-corruption tribunal

The tribunal will operate under civil law and comprise seven senior judges,
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the second day of the Mining Indaba, on February 5, 2019, in Cape Town. – The Mining Indaba is Africa’s foremost mining industry meeting, bringing international mining companies, government officials, and all role players in African mining, together. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Sunday that he would establish a fast-track tribunal to claw back the proceeds of corruption as the government faces a whirlwind of graft allegations.

Endemic corruption has been exposed inside the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at two judicial inquiries.

“Fast-tracking these matters through the special tribunal will enable the Special Investigating Units to recover monies and or assets lost by state institutions through irregular and corrupt means,” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement.

The tribunal will operate under civil law and comprise seven senior judges, it added.

His announcement comes a day after the main opposition Democratic Alliance party leader Mmusi Maimane pledged to create a specialist criminal anti-corruption taskforce if elected.

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“I want to say to all the politicians, if you are corrupt, you can expect to spend 15 years in jail,” he said at his party’s manifesto launch in Johannesburg on Saturday ahead of nationwide legislative elections on May 8.

Corruption is quickly becoming a key election battleground as two judicial inquiries lay bare the scale of official corruption under the ANC — as well as its pettiness.

In one disclosure, an inquiry witness alleged that a serving minister had wrongfully taken Christmas hampers worth hundreds of dollars and containing premium meats in return for favourable treatment.

Former president Jacob Zuma is on trial for alleged corruption relating to a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.

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He is also accused of giving influence over government to the wealthy Gupta business family during his term in office in return for kickbacks.

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