Key Issues


CAPE TOWN-- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa initiated a large-scale investigation into widespread corruption in a number of local and national government departments.

Under an presidential order, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) will investigate several matters at various levels of governance in terms of the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunal Act (1996), the Presidency said.

A broad range of proclamations were signed by the president to this effect, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

The proclamations authorized the SIU to investigate allegations of serious irregularities in relation to procurement of goods and/or services in a manner that was not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective contrary to applicable legal framework, according to Diko.

The investigation will also cover improper or unlawful conduct by employees or officials and unlawful appropriation of expenditure or public money or property, among others, Diko said.

A number of government departments at various levels were named by the president as major targets of the investigation. These include the National Department of Public Works, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Transport, the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority and various Eastern Cape provincial institutions.

One of the prominent corruption scandals to be investigated is related to late president Nelson Mandela's funeral in 2013.

The funeral was allegedly exploited by unscrupulous officials, resulting in 300 million rand (about 24 million U.S. dollars) wasted and misspent, as the Eastern Cape provincial government scrambled to pull it off with no proper plans in place, according to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Since taking power in February, Ramaphosa has repeatedly vowed to wipe out corruption in his government. Friday's decision by the president is seen as the most drastic move in this regard.

South Africa suffers from widespread corruption, which includes the private use of public resources, bribery, and improper favoritism.

The 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index assigned South Africa an index of 43, ranking South Africa 71 out of 180 countries. This ranking represents a downward direction change with a drop of two points down from 45 in the previous year. Countries with scores below 50 are believed to have a serious corruption problems.