/ 12 November 2020

‘Let ANC deal with its leaders facing corruption charges,’ Ramaphosa tells parliament

Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (David Harrison/M&G)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told parliament that the ANC must be allowed to deal with issues of its leaders facing allegations of corruption

Ramaphosa was answering questions in parliament on Thursday afternoon. 

He was responding to Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen’s question requesting details of the steps the government had taken to deal with corruption and state capture. 

In his supplementary question, Steenhuisen asked Ramaphosa why Ace Magashule was still the secretary-general of the ANC and why Bongani Bongo was still asking questions in parliament if the president was serious about rooting out corruption in government, in the party and in society. 

“The issue of the leaders of the ANC is a matter that is being  handled by the African National Congress. The ANC, through its own processes, is dealing with these matters and, like I have said before, with all these matters that I have been reporting on, let us wait for all these processes to unfold. In time these matters will be addressed and everybody will get to know how the African National Congress itself is addressing those matters,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that he was appearing in parliament as the president of the country and not as the president of the ANC.

“Those matters that Mr Steenhuisen  is raising are with the African National Congress, which I have said is dealing with the matters.”

Magashule is due to appear in court in Bloemfontein tomorrow after being served with a warrant of arrest on Tuesday. 

The warrant is related to corruption charges linked to the R255-million Free State asbestos scandal, which took place when Magashule was the province’s premier and ANC provincial chairperson. 

Seven people have already been arrested in relation to the case, including the former mayor of Mangaung, Olly Mlamleli.

On Wednesday the case was postponed until next year. 

Addressing a media briefing on Wednesday ANC  treasurer general Paul Mashatile and  deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte,  said Magashule would not stand aside from his position. 

Mashatile said the issue of stepping down would be discussed at the party’s next national executive committee ,eetomg. 

Meanwhile, Bongo,  who is the former state security minister and chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, has two cases of corruption pending. Last month he appeared at a court in Mpumalanga for charges including fraud, corruption and theft relating to R124-million worth of land deals in the province. 

Last year, Bongo was arrested on charges of trying to bribe former parliamentary head of legal services, advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara. The advocate claimed that Bongo bribed him with a blank cheque to ensure that he was not implicated in an investigation into the mismanagement of the national power utility, Eskom.  

Back in parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema asked Ramaphosa why he would not allow bank statements of people who funded his campaign to be unsealed and if this was not undermining efforts by the government to fight corruption. 

Ramaphosa said it was not in his power to make the decision to unseal the statements. He said, ultimately, the court would decide whether the bank statements must be made public. He also said that there was no evidence of corruption or improper conduct in relation to the bank statements or the CR17 campaign

Ramaphosa also said it would be unreasonable to expect the disclosure of the information until at time when all candidates and all parties were held to the same requirements of disclosure and transparency. He also said that currently there are no rules or regulations that direct candidates running for internal party contests to reveal such information. 

“This is perhaps a good time for this house to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be regulated. This house must discuss that and, if it so desires, come up with a law to regulate internal party contests because we do not have such regulations now,” he said. 

In a follow-up question, Malema asked if Ramaphosa were serious about fighting corruption and transparency. If so, he would fight for the disclosure of the people who funded his campaign, because he has nothing to hide. He also said if the people who funded the campaign have nothing to hide and were funding a noble campaign, they would not have a problem having their identity revealed. 

However, Ramaphosa reiterated that Malema must let the courts rule on the matter.