/ 21 June 2022

NWC taking its time with Ramaphosa report to avoid Nkandla pool ‘mistakes’

(Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)
(Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The African National Congress National Executive Committee (NEC) will likely call a special meeting to discuss the scandal surrounding the theft of allegedly undisclosed US dollars from president Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm. 

This follows an NWC meeting on Monday that discussed the scandal, among other issues, which has made international headlines. 

Insiders told Mail & Guardian that officials at the meeting were questioned by Ramaphosa’s detractors about their failure to produce a report on the matter.  

An insider with intimate knowledge of the meeting said that ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile explained that the officials decided to take their time composing a report to “avoid making a mistake”. 

“Officials said we have not finished the report because we don’t want to commit the same mistake we did with the Nkandla swimming pool. They said they are not just going to report willy-nilly, they must give the NEC a comprehensive report so that we are clear about what we are telling the nation.” 

The ANC was found wanting when, in 2014, it defended “security upgrades” at the Nkandla home of former president Jacob Zuma. 

Zuma was found to have breached the constitution by failing to implement the Nkandla judgment penned by former public protector Thuli Madonsela that related to his homestead. 

Madonsela found that Zuma benefitted from over R200 million in non-security upgrades including a swimming pool, amphitheatre and chicken run. Although it took up well below 2% of the total amount spent on Nkandla, the state-built swimming pool captured the public imagination because of the justification for it being installed with taxpayer money – it could be used to fight fires. 

Ramaphosa, who was South African deputy president at the time, said of the Nkandla saga: “There was no corruption, nothing to do with Nkandla was unlawful. The ‘fire pool’ is not even as big as an Olympic swimming pool.”

Two weeks ago, the country’s former spy boss and Zuma ally, Arthur Fraser, opened a case of money laundering, kidnapping and corruption against Ramaphosa over the theft of USD$4-million (Ramaphosa has said the amount was much lower) at the head of state’s home in 2020.

Fraser said he had laid charges against Ramaphosa under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. He said that supporting evidence – including photographs, bank accounts, video footage and names – had been handed to Rosebank police, along with his statement.

He alleged that the charges related to the theft of the dollars, which were “concealed” at the president’s Phala Phala game farm in the Waterberg region of Limpopo, on 9 February 2020. The charges would include defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping of the alleged suspects in the robbery, the interrogation of the suspects, and bribery.

The NWC insider added that ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe cautioned at Monday’s meeting that the party had learnt from its mistakes after its handling of the Nkandla scandal. 

“The president must also appear before the integrity committee, so we cannot have a report before that process has taken place,” the insider – who is a Ramaphosa ally – told M&G.  

In a recent interview with M&G, ANC integrity committee head George Mashamba said that Ramaphosa had not indicated when he would meet the group of elders. The president instead said he had to consider his schedule before committing to a date, according to Mashamba. 

It was the integrity committee – often punted as toothless – that recommended criminally charged ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule step aside. 

Mashamba said he would like to see a clear demarcation between the party’s disciplinary committee and the integrity committee, adding that those who had breached the rules of the party should be sent to the disciplinary committee. 

He said that the committee was ill-resourced and lacked the professional capacity to deal with some of the cases that were placed before it. 

“It is a lot of work because people in the commission are old, they have other commitments. It would be good for us if our job was to have the role of inculcating the values and principles of the movement and helping membership to internalise these things,” he said.