Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has confirmed receiving a complaint that President Cyril Ramaphosa has allegedly breached the Executive Code of Ethics.
This is in relation to a leaked audio where Ramaphosa, purportedly speaking at a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), allegedly suggested he was aware of improper use of public funds for ANC activities.
“The public protector wishes to remind all concerned that in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Act (EMEA), the public protector must investigate any alleged breach of the code on receipt of a complaint by the president, a member of the National Assembly or a permanent delegate of the National Council of Provinces if the complaint is against a cabinet member or a deputy minister,” said public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.
“The EMEA further provides that such an investigation must be completed within 30 days.”
Mkhwebane’s office announced that the complaint was lodged on Wednesday afternoon.
This was a day after suspended ANC MP Mervyn Dirks appeared before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), where he urged the committee to “summon” Ramaphosa to account for his alleged remarks.
At that meeting, Dirks also indicated that he would be complaining to the public protector about Ramaphosa’s alleged conduct.
“The fact that the president, having knowledge about the misuse of public funds, is definitely also in serious breach of the Ethics Code, and that this falls within the purview of the public protector, I have already addressed by having written a formal letter of complaint to the public protector,” he said at the time.
Dirks said he would also be writing to acting chief justice Raymond Zondo, in his capacity as chairperson of the state capture commission, regarding Ramaphosa’s failure to share his knowledge about the misuse of public funds with the commission.
“What President Ramaphosa stated in the audio clip is that he has knowledge about what is clearly the abuse/misappropriation of public funds,” Dirks said on Tuesday.
“We cannot beat about the bush about this — the misuse of public funds is an act of criminality. To put it simply, it is a crime.
“Furthermore, we all know that it is also illegal for anyone who is aware of such a crime not to report it to the authorities. In short, what the president admitted to is that he is committing a crime by not having reported this act of criminality that is known to him,” Dirks told Scopa.
“However, the president goes even further by trying to make this criminal conduct of his — to which he admits personally — seem virtuous by saying that he will rather fall on his sword than to report it.”
Dirks said the situation was made worse by the fact that Ramaphosa had appeared under oath before the state capture commission.
“This wilful act of criminal omission to my mind amounts to perjury,” he said.
He was not available for comment on Thursday.