Ramaphosa to testify at Zondo commission in late April

President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear before the Zondo commission for four days in late April, to testify both in his capacity as president of the country and as president of the ANC.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announced this on Wednesday before hearing further testimony on the South African Revenue Service, saying he thought it was in the public interest to know when Ramaphosa would appear.

“I just thought I should make that announcement so that the public is aware,” he said after providing the dates.

The president has agreed to take the witness stand on April 22 and 23, and again on April 28 and 29, Zondo said.

The last two days have been set aside for Ramaphosa to testify in his capacity as head of state; the earlier two will be reserved for dealing with matters relating to the ANC.

“On the 22 and 23 April, those dates are effectively provided for the ruling party the ANC, because I have also indicated that this commission cannot complete its work without the ruling party also coming to give evidence and deal with certain matters, and I was assured by its president that it would come and do that,” Zondo said.

“I understand that President Ramaphosa will testify representing the African National Congress, but I have indicated that from the commission’s side the president will have to testify as president of the country and former deputy president of the country, but it is up to the ANC to provide its witnesses,” he continued.

“But I understand that he will lead that delegation as well, in his capacity as president of the ruling party.”

This signals that Ramaphosa was not prepared to allow any of the top officials in the deeply fractured party to appear before the commission to answer on the ANC’s failures and how these allowed the Zuma administration to sink into an abyss of rent-seeking scandals.

In early February, the commission heard testimony from former ANC MPs who were punished by Luthuli House for seeking to call a halt to wrongdoing during the Zuma era, as well as from colleagues who said they did not do so because their primary loyalty was to the party.

This led Zondo to question how legislators could betray their oath of office to provide oversight of the executive and wonder aloud whether the extent of state capture could have been contained if the ANC had allowed its members to place duty before the party. 

“I guess the one thing that would be clear is that if the ruling party was really intolerant of corruption and wanted proper oversight to be performed by members of parliament — effective oversight — parliament could have stopped a lot of things that have happened that are wrong,” he said after hearing testimony from former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza.

On the days when Ramaphosa will take the stand as state president it is expected that he will deal with allegations by former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe that he allowed his business interests to interfere with governance.

Molefe charged that Ramaphosa was prepared to allow Glencore to hold the power utility to ransom because of his history with the mining giant.

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