The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) has resolved not to call President Cyril Ramaphosa to appear before it.
The majority voted in favour of not calling him to the committee.
The African National Congress (ANC) called for the matter to be put to a vote after they could not agree in Wednesday night’s virtual committee meeting.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), The African Transformation Movement (ATM) with four members all voted in favour of the President appearing before SCOPA.
The six African National Congress (ANC) members who voted against it, felt that the committee should follow the Parliamentary legal advice by awaiting the third State Capture report for SCOPA to deal holistically with the matter.
This comes as the State Security Agency (SSA) is at the centre of the alleged misuse of state funds for party political activities. The SSA was implicated at the Zondo State Capture Commission of Inquiry.
The DA, EFF and ATM said they wanted Ramaphosa to be called to appear because they were not happy with his written response to questions about the leaked audio recording of an ANC NEC meeting.
DA Member of SCOPA, Al Lees, says Ramaphosa’s utterances in the recording suggested each ANC NEC member knew that money often comes from state resources for party campaigns and to bus people around.
Lees says it was not good enough that the President says what he said in the recording was already in the Public domain.
Lees says the words used by Ramaphosa in the audio recording referring to “each one of us” – means he has information.
“It’s quite clear to me in any event that there is a personal knowledge here, – “each one of us knows”. And so Mr chairman it is quite disappointing that the President has not addressed in any way, the particular aspect. And whilst I have already said that the direction to the SSA is very useful and it’s quite that we need to look at. It would appear to be some form of obfuscation and directing us a way of the main issue. And so Mr Chairman, I remain concerned the President hasn’t really taken our request for information seriously enough and we now need to very carefully consider and I am coming to the conclusion that we should ask President Ramaphosa to come and talk to us and answer some direct questions from us.”
EFF Member of the Committee, Veronica Mente says Ramaphosa’s written response was tantamount to mocking SCOPA. She wanted him to be called to account and if he refused he should be summoned.
“So in all fairness and the procedures we all followed. We wrote the letter like we all do as SCOPA that when we get information of this nature we follow these certain procedures and we are very patient with it, but when it gets to a point where you just get mocked by the very same person who started opening their mouth then they say things they know are not to be said, – then it becomes our business, so Chair I am going to concur with my colleagues that the President must be called. No not summoned this time. No, summoning is another level, (must be) called to the committee to explain upon which he refuses then we summon him.”
ATM’S Thandiswa Marawu described the President’s written response as under-whelming and a blanket denial when compared to what he is saying in the leaked audio recording.
Marawu says the president is not convincing at all.
“Because if you look at 8.6 to 8.10, he started by saying I have no information which means that the President has not answered the critical questions we asked. Broadly, the President indicated two areas -where the money came from but in his response, he went into detail dealing with one, maybe the various submissions by various officials as regard to the abuse of state funds from State Security agents only. There was no equivalent explanation for the misuse of funds from the rest of government departments. Chairperson why would he say in the leaked audio, let’s not kid ourselves when he was talking about everyone and now claim not to be knowing anything. Was he lying then or he is lying now. I fully concur with colleagues that the best approach is to call the President so that he can interact with us directly.”
ANC Member of SCOPA, Lorraine Lubengo gave reasons why the President should not appear but her explanation was rejected by the EFF’s Mente.
“I am supporting those who say it’s not good to call the President to come to this committee, the reason being that we should wait for the Zondo Commission to finish its report then we take it from there.”
Mente responded by saying, “Chair, we didn’t write to the President because we all knew there is a Zondo report and we all knew the content of the Zondo report. We did not write a letter to the President to say he must explain to us the Zondo report, No.”
Members of the Committee had to vote after they could not reach consensus. The ANC moved for voting to be done.
SCOPA Chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa who conducted the voting process gave the final outcome after six voted against four.
“The question is therefore not agreed to. Majority has resolved that the President will not be invited to appear before the committee to answer on the allegations of misuse of funds for a political party, this on the basis of the audio recording and the (written) response he has provided. So this dispenses with that question.”
While SCOPA members were busy arguing and voting on Wednesday night on whether Ramaphosa should be called to appear before the committee or not, the President told the media earlier in the day that he has no problem appearing before SCOPA.
He said he will not wait to be summoned but appear before SCOPA if he is called by the committee.
President Ramaphosa engages with the media: