President Cyril Ramaphosa to take hot seat at Zondo commission
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa will, for the first time, be compelled to answer under oath questions about his oversight role and alleged participation in state capture during his predecessor's tenure.
His long-awaited appearance at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture will get under way on Wednesday morning.
Ramaphosa will be wearing his cap as president of the ANC during this two-day appearance at the commission. He is expected to be accompanied by members of his party's national executive committee.
While Ramaphosa will be in the hot seat, his detractors are expected to be in the public gallery watching how he answers questions posed to him and hoping to exploit any loopholes they may find.
DA leader John Steenhuisen has announced he will be available for interviews before and after Ramaphosa's appearance, piling pressure on the president. Steenhuisen said he expected Ramaphosa to be honest about the party's role during the period of state capture.
In particular, Steenhuisen said he was looking forward to Ramaphosa discussing how the ANC policy of cadre deployment contributed in hollowing out the state into the incapable state it has become.
“I would like Ramaphosa to explain his role as the chairperson of the cadre deployment committee and to acknowledge that appointments he has presided over have been disastrous for the country and that the ANC will end this practice.
"I would like to understand what the president did, while he was serving as deputy president to former president Jacob Zuma and in his Cabinet, to combat corruption and to stand up against the excesses of the Zuma era and why he protected Zuma at every turn in Parliament,” said Steenhuisen.
Ramaphosa is set to face tough questions from the commission's evidence leaders and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo about what he did or did not do when the Gupta brothers allegedly captured the state.
Ramaphosa served as Zuma’s deputy from 2014 to 2018.
After this week’s appearance, he will return to the commission early next month to answer questions about his time as the country’s deputy president under Zuma, who has been strongly linked to state capture and the infamous Gupta family.
According to a number of previous witnesses, including those in parliamentary oversight, the allegations of state capture came to the fore in 2013 when the Gupta family landed a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.
It has been alleged that the state was captured by the Gupta family who have not only played a major role in the looting of the state but were also the puppet masters behind a number of state appointments and Cabinet reshuffles under the Jacob Zuma administration.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the country expected Ramaphosa to be honest and open about the ANC. This may place him in a tough position to be critical of the party as those who criticise the ANC don't stay at the centre of power in the party.
Mathekga added that criticising the internal matters of the ANC in an open forum would almost amount to a sitting president breaking ranks.