President Cyril Ramaphosa appears before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa appears before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Zondo commission: Ramaphosa concedes ANC and Parliament dropped the ball on Gupta claims

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that Parliament and the ANC dropped the ball in not dealing swiftly with allegations of state capture that were contained in the Gupta leaks and various media reports.

Ramaphosa testified on Thursday as the leader of the ANC.

He was questioned on parliamentary oversight and the ANC's role in dealing with corruption allegations.

Advocate Alec Freund, the evidence leader, took the president through sections of the law that detail that the executive is accountable to Parliament and not the ANC. He has also read legislation that highlights that Parliament is obliged to investigate corruption claims that surface in the public domain.

Ramaphosa agreed on what the law required.

Freund then took him through a news article that quoted senior ANC leaders detailing how ministers were being summoned to the Gupta compound and were "shivering" in fear of the infamous family.

Freud put it to Ramaphosa that when allegations started to surface, of outside sources interfering with the executive, then Parliament had an obligation to investigate the claims.

Ramaphosa agreed but defended Parliament, saying the allegations were not backed by evidence at the time.

"I do agree that Parliament has a role when it comes to allegations of this note; it is the governing party that should activate its role. And if it fails, then Parliament should come in, but they would need more than allegations. Gupta leaks amounted to evidence that could be followed through," Ramaphosa said.

Freund continued; "For more than five years, Parliament did not investigate and hold inquiries and do what was possibly about serious allegations?"

Ramaphosa responded: "I accept and concede that. There was a dropping of the ball at that level."

When the allegations surfaced surrounding the Gupta family and their possible influence on ministers, former ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was quoted as saying the allegations were racist.

Ramaphosa said that in hindsight, responses such as those made by Mantashe were from a "blind" perspective. The president has repeatedly testified that the issue of state capture was hotly contested in the ANC. Some members were suspicious of the claims.

Ramaphosa said that in late 2017, Parliament did start to "activate", as committees were instructed to support probes in the Gupta leaks.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the chair of the inquiry, questioned Ramaphosa on why the ANC had waited until 2017 to act.

"2017 was too far and there seems to have been enough that had happened for Parliament to have acted much earlier. It may have been that the damage that happened may have been stopped earlier," Zondo said.

The inquiry continues.

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Political Bureau

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