No-one will be spared in the government’s new fight against corruption, and the criminal justice system will be strengthened to make sure the guilty are locked up, president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced in his State of the Nation address (Sona).

Ramaphosa’s maiden Sona focused on uniting the country and fighting corruption, with several warnings that political office would no longer protect the corrupt from facing the might of the law.

“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions,” Ramaphosa began.

“We urge professional bodies and regulatory authorities to take action against members who are found to have acted improperly and unethically. This requires that we strengthen law enforcement institutions and that we shield them from external interference or manipulation.”

Ramaphosa called on investigating bodies to continue their work against state capture, and said the commission of inquiry headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo should not displace the ongoing investigations and action.

He said he would “urgently” attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority “to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered.”

The president has also set his sights on the South African Revenue Service (Sars), which experienced a decrease in the amount of tax it collected last year.
Ramaphosa announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at Sars, to “restore the credibility” of the service.

“We must understand that tax morality is dependent on an implicit contract between taxpayers and government that state spending provides value for money and is free from corruption,” Ramaphosa said.

His anti corruption message was inspiring and signals a turning tide, deputy justice minister Andries Nel told the Mail & Guardian.