Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) will not summon President Cyril Ramaphosa to appear before it — at least for now.
This comes after Scopa decided against summoning Ramaphosa to answer about alleged use of state funds in the lead up to the ANC 2017 elective conference. Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa, after a meeting of the committee lasting more than two hours, told its members that they would instead write to Ramaphosa about the allegations before asking him to appear before Scopa.
The meeting will further write to the State Security Agency, which now falls under Ramaphosa’s office, and the office of the auditor-general, which is responsible for auditing SSA funds, to seek information about the matter.
This comes after a dramatic two weeks in which it emerged that ANC MP and Scopa whip Mervyn Dirks had written to the committee late last year asking that it summon Ramaphosa to answer questions about the use of state funds from the SSA during the campaign.
In his letter, he had further insinuated that Ramaphosa may have perjured himself for failing to disclose the information which he shared with the ANC NEC about the use of the funds.
Ramaphosa became a target after the emergence of a recording of the NEC in which he spoke about his knowledge of the use of the funds.
“I think that we must put this matter to the president and seek his response,” said Hlengwa.
He had suggested that the committee take a “two-pronged approach” where it writes to Ramaphosa asking him to submit a statement to the committee or an affidavit to speak about his knowledge about the use of the SSA funds.
“Upon receipt of that information, the committee will make a determination on the process of hearings on this matter. So he does need to furnish us with information. Two, the president is now not the only implicated stakeholder, for lack of a better phrase, or entity in this matter. I think that the State Security Agency must provide an explanation or representation or an affidavit to the committee on this matter,” said Hlengwa.ADVERTISING
He said the committee should further advise parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence about the matter, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo who chaired the state capture commission.
Dirks had told the committee, during his presentation to it, that he had also written to Mkhwebane and Zondo to complain about Ramaphosa.
MPs had earlier decided against summoning Ramaphosa, opting rather to ask him to either respond in writing or be asked to appear at Scopa if he failed to reply.
A parliamentary legal advice, read out by advocate Fatima Ebrahim, had told the committee that it had a right to call Ramaphosa to answer to Scopa but warned against summoning him before he proved to be unco-operative.
ANC MPs Bheki Hadebe, Sakhumzi Somyo and Nokuzola Tolashe had spoken against summoning Ramaphosa.
DA MP Alf Lees proposed a resolution which would ask Ramaphosa to answer to the committee within seven days, failing which Scopa should formally ask him to appear in front of it. His resolution was supported by the committee.
Now Ramaphosa will have between seven and 10 days to answer questions from Scopa on the matter, failing which he may be asked to formally appear before it to answer.