President Cyril Ramaphosa did not intentionally mislead Parliament nor was he coerced into correcting his statement, says ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Mthembu reiterated the party’s support for Ramaphosa’s correction to the National Assembly with regards to a Bosasa payment that benefitted Ramaphosa’s CR17 ANC presidential campaign.
“As caucus, we applaud the honesty and sincerity with which the President has handled this matter by providing a correction upon having realised he had made a mistake in his oral reply to Parliament,” said Mthembu.
“In my understanding, the president would be worried about any person in his family being seen doing business with a company that does business with the state. It would’ve been a discussion of moral nature.”
The correction referred to a supplementary question asked by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on November 6. Maimane had asked the president about a payment of R500 000 made out to the president’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, by Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) chief executive Gavin Watson.
Since Ramaphosa writing a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete on November 14 correcting his initial statement, he has been criticised for lying by political parties. The Economic Freedom Fighters asked that the president admits to lying to Parliament.
Additionally, the DA has requested that Ramaphosa initiate an investigation into Bosasa to learn the extent of its influence on government officials.
Mthembu challenged assertions that Ramaphosa had lied to Parliament on Thursday, arguing that Ramaphosa did not have all the facts at his disposal when he answered Maimane’s question.
“All those parties who have rushed to make allegations that the President lied, were motivated by cheap populism and politicking because such articulation is not supported by any facts,” said Mthembu.
The chief whip added that this was the second time the president had corrected a statement. Mthembu referred to Ramaphosa’s letter in August where the president corrected the cost of former president Jacob Zuma’s legal fees.
“Parliament works on the basis of rules, precedence, practices and conventions,” explained Mthembu “Because the President previously corrected information in relation to costs and this was accepted, the recent correction is therefore consistent with that practice and approach.”
Ramaphosa has since promised to pay back the money following the audit of campaign finances.