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PRESS STATEMENT: United Nations supports President Ramaphosa’s fight against corruption, 6 August 2020

Pretoria: The United Nations in South Africa wishes to express its full support to the fight against corruption being waged by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Government.

In his address to the nation on 23 July on progress to contain COVID-19, the President spoke of the efforts the Government has undertaken in response to the pandemic and the difference these efforts were making in the lives of millions of South Africans.

“But what concerns me,” President Ramaphosa said, “and what concerns all South Africans, are those instances where funds are stolen, where they are misused, where goods are overpriced, where food parcels are diverted from needy households – where there is corruption and mismanagement of public funds.”

Experience worldwide has shown that corruption thrives in times of a crisis, and the current coronavirus pandemic has created not only a health crisis but also socio-economic and political crises. It is yet to be known how much of the resources which were needed to assist the poor and the vulnerable have been wasted through corruption and mismanagement.

To this end, the UN pledges total support to the Government, opposition political parties, the civil society and the private sector to ensure transparency and accountability in the way they utilise scarce resources, especially in these times of crises. The need for transparency and accountability is enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which South Africa is a party. This international convention, is an instrument intended to combat the scourge of corruption around the world.

The UN in South Africa further calls on the Government to adopt the National Anti-corruption Strategy, in line with the commitment made by the President in his State of the Nation Address in February 2020, to guide comprehensive nationwide action at all levels and to engage civil society and other stakeholders in its implementation. This is the time for change. The UN stands ready to support national efforts against corruption for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

The UN is encouraged by the President’s response to the allegations of corruption involving funds meant to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially his announcement that said the Government has “established a collaborative and coordinating centre to strengthen the collective efforts among law enforcement agencies so as to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute COVID-19-related corruption.”

“We welcome the Government’s determination to thorough investigate every instance of alleged corruption, prosecute wrongdoers and recover all stolen monies,” said Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the head of the UN and the Resident Coordinator in South Africa.

“We call on the Government and the society at large to redouble their efforts to eradicate corruption in all its forms. Various studies have shown that South Africa is losing billions of dollars every year to corruption, money that should go towards improving the lives of all South Africans,” Ms. Bekele-Thomas added.

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