ANC leaders charged with corruption was a matter for the ANC, said President Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Assembly on Thursday, a day before ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, formerly the premier of the Free State, was due to appear in court on corruption charges.
The first question of the hybrid plenary, posed by DA leader John Steenhuisen, dealt with corruption and the Ramaphosa administration’s response to state capture. The last question on the question paper was in the name of ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who had been charged in two separate corruption cases.
In his follow-up question, Steenhuisen asked if Ramaphosa was truly committed to fighting corruption, how was it that Magashule was still the ANC secretary-general, and Bongo had a question on the question paper.
“The issue of the leaders of the ANC is a matter that is handled by the ANC,” said Ramaphosa, who is the ANC’s president.
He asked for the ANC’s internal processes to be allowed to unfold.
“As I’m standing here today,” said Ramaphosa, who appeared to be seated while he spoke over the virtual platform, “I stand before you as president of the republic.”
He said the issues Steenhuisen raised were “germane to the ANC”, who was dealing with it.
ANC MP Grace Tseke asked whether he agreed that everyone should unite in the fight against corruption, and that it was not a “narrow party political affair”.
Ramaphosa responded: “I couldn’t agree more.”
He said, as he did previously, that his administration would not interfere in the law enforcement agencies’ work.
“We will not block them. They are working in the interest of all South Africans.”
“Corruption, in the end, is a crime against the people of our country.”
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe asked whether Ramaphosa would agree with the ACDP that instead of bailing out failing state-owned enterprises, the money could be better spent fighting corruption.
“I’d like to say that where I’m sitting as president… we always seek to create a good balance.”
He said the funding of the criminal justice system was a “recurring challenge”, and the SOE’s “from time to time run into financial difficulties”.
Ramaphosa said they told SOEs that they would not continue to bail them out.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald referred to former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe’s testimony before the Zondo commission into state capture, in which he said that a report detailing corruption was handed to the ANC top six in 2015.
“Why didn’t you act in 2015?” Groenewald asked.
He then asked another question – when Ramaphosa was going to sign the regulations for the Party Funding Act. Ramaphosa responded to this question, but not the one relating to Prasa.