President Cyril Ramaphosa says the biggest regret of his term in office was not anticipating the rampant corruption resulting from procuring Covid-19 personal protective equipment.
PPE procurement should have been centralised similarly to how government purchased vaccines, Ramaphosa said on Saturday at an ANC manifesto review media engagement in Johannesburg.
He said he was not proud of the corruption that ran into billions of rands and implicated politicians and those close to government officials.
“What I am not proud of is the way we did not anticipate that there would be corruption as we dispersed personal protective equipment. That depressed me, and I paused for a while and said we should not have centralised the distribution of PPE as we did with vaccines. With vaccines, many companies kept coming saying we can get you vaccines, and we refused. We said no, only the state is going to do it,” Ramaphosa said.
He was also displeased with the unrest that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July 2021.
He said the security forces were unprepared for the rampant looting and destruction that caused damage to businesses and the economy.
“Our security forces were not prepared, and we did not manage the unrest well, and that to me was a dark dot,” the president said.
He was talking to the media about the ANC’s election campaign rollout, which begins on Sunday with a manifesto review of its 2019 promises.
He faced questions on corruption and government’s perceived lack of interest in implementing the state capture report recommendations.
Ramaphosa said the government had spent nearly R1 billion financing the commission, proving they had to implement its recommendations.
The president commented in a room full of fellow ANC members, including ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe and deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane. Both were implicated heavily in the commission’s report.
The decision to establish the commission was correct, and we spent a lot of money.
“Many people allege that we are not implementing those recommendations. All sectors identified by the commission, including Parliament and the governing ANC, committed themselves to implementing the commission’s report. Leaders that were fingered, there is a process underway to deal with that, including recovering money that was stolen and dealing with entities that were completely destroyed.”
The president said he understood that there was public demand to see people held directly accountable and serving prison sentences because of the state capture report, but he pleaded for patience while the wheels of justice were in motion.
“I know people want to see scalps on the table and decapitation and all, and they want to see people in jail. But these are processes that have to be followed,” Ramaphosa said.