JOHANNESBURG, The Deputy President of South Africa and of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa, has warned that corruption in the nation's public sector threatens the sovereignty and the economy of the country.

Ramaphosa said this Wednesday when addressing the South African Communist Party's (SACP) 14th National Congress currently underway in Boksburg, near here. The SACP is a partner of the ANC in the Tripartite Alliance, which also includes the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The ANC is currently embroiled in a fiercely-contested leadership race ahead of its national elective congress this December and Ramaphosa, one of the leading contenders to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president, received a rousing welcome as he stood to address a packed plenary hall here.

As they sand their party song, the SACP members made it clear that they want him to be the next ANC leader.

Ramaphosa used his speech to denounce the abuse of State resources to benefit the controversial Gupta family and their close associates within the ruling elite. We cannot turn a blind eye to those revelations. I'm one of those who will not remain quiet. State capture has already had a damaging impact on our economy and our State.

Ramaphosa also called for the immediate appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe alleged State capture by members of the Gupta family through the influence they wield over close friends and associates in the State.

The house is on fire. Let us appoint this Judicial Commission of Inquiry. We also need to recover the monies. They belong to South Africans, said Ramaphosa.

Meanwhile, Cosatu has again re-affirmed its decision to support Ramaphosa as President Zuma's successor.

Ramaphosa and the former Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a firmer wife of President Zuma, have emerged as front-runners for the ruling party's top post.

Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali justified the leading labour confederation's calls to back Ramaphosa as the next ANC leader. We've come out openly that the Deputy President of the ANC should be the next President of the ANC, because Cosatu has not reached the stage where we have lost hope in the ANC. Workers understand the challenges of the ANC as challenges of leadership.

While Cosatu and the SACP have led calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down, Ramaphosa has called for unity in the Tripartite Alliance.

Comrades, if there was ever a time when we need to unify and strengthen the Alliance then this is the time. When we are weak we need to strengthen ourselves. We are confident that this congress can come up with best decisions that are going to take this country forward.

Ramaphosa's call was echoed by the General Secretary of the South African National Civics Organization (Sanco), Skhumbuzo Mpanza. This congress must reclaim the spirit of unity. Now is the time for the Alliance to save the ANC from self-implosion. This will not be achieved through empty political rhetoric but through unity.

The SACP's top brass has resolved to convene a special conference next year to decide on whether it will go it alone in the 2019 general elections or contest under the ANC banner as before.