SA President Sets Up Tribunal to Recover Stolen Funds

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has established a special tribunal to expedite prosecutions and recover the proceeds of corruption amidst an ongoing state capture inquiry that has dominated South African politics for two years, the Office of the President announced in a statement. 

CyrilPresident Cyril Ramaphosa established the special tribunal. (Photo: Wikipedia, Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0) The tribunal will consider cases brought by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the country’s anti-corruption body, and will help finalize civil litigation cases involving contracts entered into by state institutions that the SIU has either declared “irregularly invalid” or set aside. 

Fast tracking these cases will allow the SIU to recover money or assets lost by the state through “irregular and corrupt means,” according to the statement. 

South Africa’s state capture inquiry was launched following a scandal which erupted after documents leaked to the South African press in 2017 revealed close ties between then-president Jacob Zuma and the well-connected Gupta family. Several of Zuma’s children served as directors of Gupta companies.

The Guptas relocated to South Africa from India in 1993 and have allegedly used their vast wealth to wield influence over the government. It is suspected that kickbacks amounting to US$411 million were paid in exchange for state contracts.

Zuma established a commission last January to investigate the allegations, but resigned the following month due to pressure from within his party.

President Ramaphosa has tried to paint himself as an anti-corruption politician, but just last November he was forced to return a $35,000 leadership campaign donation given by a firm accused of corruption, Bosasa. Bosasa’s former COO, a whistleblower in the state capture inquiry, was himself charged with corruption earlier this month. 

As the May presidential election draws closer, the country’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is gearing up for a fight. 

Just one day before Ramaphosa announced the tribunal, the DA released a manifesto that named the fight against graft a cornerstone of its political platform. 

“If you are a corrupt politician, you will spend at least 15 years in jail,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in the manifesto.