Ramaphosa’s office defends criticism of integrity commission
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s brushes with the integrity commission have come under focus after revelations that he slammed it for criticising his reluctance to appear before it.
This comes after it transpired that Ramaphosa accused the commission of painting him as a “delinquent” and of evading the commission where he was called upon to explain the controversies around the funding of his campaign for ANC presidency, which generated controversy after the leaking of documents in 2018.
The commission criticised how Ramaphosa wanted it to wait for the conclusion of legal processes around the CR17 campaign saga, arguing it was dealing with the matter on a political and ethical basis.
On Wednesday, Ramaphosa’s office in Luthuli House, however, defended his rebuke of the ANC commission.
ANC head of presidency Sibongile Besani said the report by commission chairperson George Mashamba misrepresented Ramaphosa’s plea that his representation wait for the legal fight over the saga be concluded and painted it as a refusal.
“He (Ramaphosa) made the proposition to the chairperson (Mashamba) of the commission two years or so ago.
“At that stage the chairperson did not have the problem and now once the issues were sort of settled down, the president volunteered to go to the commission.
“That is what the letter of the president was saying, that he is not a delinquent,” Besani said.
Besani said Ramaphosa was unhappy that the commission had expressed no problem with his proposition to Mashamba in 2018, only for it to chastise him later after he had volunteered himself before it late last year.
“The commission report sort of suggested that the president was refusing to come before it and account,” he said.
The exchanges between Ramaphosa and the commission come as the powers of the commission have come under question amid reluctance to implement its recommendations by the party’s top brass.
Besani insisted Mashamba was wrong by suggesting Ramaphosa refused to present himself.
“The president made his submission but he only learnt later the commission had a problem with how he approached it… If the commission told him after his submission that he must come and he refused, then it would be a different issue,” he said.
Last month, the commission recommended that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule step aside or be removed from his position after he was criminally charged in relation to the asbestos corruption saga.
Magashule is just but one of many ANC leaders who have so far refused to step aside from their posts after they were charged despite the party’s resolution that they should do so.
But Besani argued that Ramaphosa’s case was different.
“Anybody who is looking at what the president said as the basis to defy the commission would be opportunistic and mischievous.
“These things are very different because the president has not been charged for any crime,” he said.
Political commentator Xolani Dube said Ramphosa’s reluctance to appear before the commission two years ago was not different from Magashule’s current refusal to step down, as both their actions undermined the relevance of the commission.
“There is no difference because they are both destroying the commission and its relevance.
“There is nothing that is going to stop anyone from using legal processes or invoking their right to openly defy the commission now, and the ANC cannot do much about this,” Dube said.