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Ramaphosa struggles to align loyalty to the ANC with parliamentary oath

Undertakes to ‘explain some of the lapses that have happened’ – but fails to.
‘The party functions as a collective’ according to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: GCIS

The Zondo Commission’s inquiry into parliamentary oversight continued on Thursday (April 29), with President Cyril Ramaphosa providing testimony in his capacity as president of the ANC.

Advocate Alec Freund SC took over as evidence leader for the morning session. Freund reminded Ramaphosa of the overall objective – to understand what happened, why it happened, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

The morning session covered the role of the ANC in parliament, effective parliamentary oversight, the constitutional powers of parliament, the role of the ANC political committee, and the tension between the oath of office taken by an ANC member of parliament (MP), and that MP’s loyalty to the party.

The role of the ANC in parliament

Freund summed up the duties of parliament to include exercising due oversight over the executive, overseeing and scrutinising executive action and holding the executive accountable. This is a constitutional obligation.

Freund referred Ramaphosa to the Constitutional Court judgment on the expenditure related to former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead handed down on March 31, 2016.

The court found that:

  • The national assembly had failed in its constitutional obligation of oversight.

Where a president is implicated in conduct that is unconstitutional, illegal, improper, the national assembly is obliged by the constitution to establish whether there is merit, and take appropriate action.

Members of parliament takes an oath of office that they will uphold the provisions of the constitution.

Ramaphosa agreed.

Read:

The constitutional powers of parliament

The national assembly may summons any person to parliament to give evidence and produce documents under oath. The national assembly also has the right to conduct public hearings.

Freund cited two examples of effective parliamentary oversight:

  • In May 2017, the national assembly conducted a public inquiry into Eskom. The report was finalised in November 2018, and concluded that it was “patently clear that there was undue influence by private individuals and companies over the appointment of Eskom board members and procurement decisions”. Freund said  this allegation had been made many years earlier.
  • Another example was the ad hoc inquiry into the SABC board in November 2016 and it was reported in February 2017.

Allegations of Gupta influence, state capture and corruption

Freund referred to Ramaphosa’s affidavit in which Ramaphosa sketched the background of the various allegations: the alleged undue influence of the Guptas, alleged state capture, and alleged corruption.

Ramaphosa had stated in the affidavit that the ANC did not have direct evidence of all the allegations, and did not have the investigative capacity to probe the allegations.

Freund put it to Ramaphosa: “The ANC may not have investigative capacity to probe the allegations, but parliament does have it.”

Ramaphosa did not deal with the second part of Freund’s statement that parliament did have the capacity and the power to conduct an investigation, and did not exercise it.

Freund also referred to the evidence given by the parliamentary house chair Cedric Frolick, who requested that parliament investigate the allegations concerning the Gupta leaks.

Ramaphosa said that once the “Gupta emails came out it became clear to us that there must be a response of one sort or another”.

Ramaphosa referred to the 53rd ANC national conference in 2012 where a decision was taken to get parliament to be “more activist” when it came to oversight and accountability whether at national provincial or lower level – “but it took time for this to take root”.

Freund asked about Ramaphosa’s personal involvement as deputy president and president in parliamentary oversight. As deputy president he was appointed as leader of government business. “What role does this play in parliamentary oversight?” asked Freund.

This resulted in a long explanation that didn’t answer the question.

Further Gupta-related incidents

Ramaphosa was asked to comment on the allegation made by Mcebisi Jonas that the Guptas had offered him the job of finance minister.

Ramaphosa explained that “we set [a] process through [the] ANC secretary-general to engage with Mcebisi Jonas and get to the bottom” of his allegation.

Ramaphosa agreed with Freund that if the Gupta allegations were true, it is a subversion of the constitution. He further commented: “If true, this to me would be unbecoming.”

At some point, while Ramaphosa was going on about the processes that had begun, commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo interjected, and reminded him that the Gupta leaks occurred five years ago. Ramaphosa conceded that there was “a dropping of the ball”.

Ramaphosa said: “I am not here to make excuses, and I am not here to defend the indefensible. But I am also here to explain some of the lapses that have happened.”

But he didn’t.

Freund asked Ramaphosa if the balance of power within the ANC structure was the reason for the delay in the investigation. Ramaphosa replied: “Yes there was a contestation … there has been a system failure and we need to correct the wrongs of the past.” 

Read: Ramaphosa says ANC should have done more to prevent Zuma-era corruption (Apr 28)

Delay in the investigation

Freund referred to the adoption of an ‘oversight and accountability model’ by parliament in 2009, which to this day has still not been implemented.

Ramaphosa replied that “there was recognition that parliamentary structures should be more active … and that it should be more activist people centred”.

Ramaphosa attempted to clarify by explaining that in “political speech” parliament was a centre of “activism and the struggle”.

The Gupta leaks indicated that parliament had not been doing its work.

Ramaphosa was also questioned on the ANC political committee, which gives strategic direction to the caucus. He said “the committee gives guidance to ANC MPs” and that “the ANC sees parliament as an important structure that requires such a committee”.

Freund put it to Ramaphosa that there is a view that the political committee was established to exert direct control over ANC MPs.

Ramaphosa replied “that is fanciful”.

Toeing the party line versus MPs’ constitutional duty

Freund then questioned Ramaphosa on the question of party discipline, such as the vote of no confidence in the former president.

Freund remarked that MPs take an oath of office, and that whatever the views of the party, it is the duty of the member to act within their own understanding of constitutional issues.

Ramaphosa replied that representatives represent the party, they don’t represent themselves.

“The party functions as a collective,” said Ramaphosa, adding that “this happens all over the world”.

It is clear that in Ramaphosa’s mind, the party line trumps the constitution.

Uncomfortable questions remain:

  • Why parliament did not hold the national executive to account.
  • Whether a member of parliament breaches the constitution if they vote according to party dictate, and not according to their conscience.

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I cannot believe we are still having this discussion. The ANC have raped this country and still have a problem admitting it. You could not make this up. Well you have been found out and the whole wold knows it.

Still no one in jail – unbelievable!

Porches , Ferrrairis, LVMH, Dior champagne, property, lifestyle…and the proletariat have nothing…how long?

………As long as it takes for the EFF to call the shots – and then EVERYONE has nothing! Perhaps that is the plan!

EFF – Everything For Free…… until nothing is left….. then nothing is for free… alla Zimbabwe

Absolutely! Is this an enquiry of a tea party?

it is not rape man it is incest, they have bestowed their disease and vile ways upon the nation. It is as if it came from the book of Revelations. Everything they touch ruined, completely ruined. They represent Soddom and Gomorrah.

Anyone who still trusts any politician, should stay away from the internet and just curl up in a ball somewhere after signing over everything they own, everything they stand for, and everything they will ever earn.

The ANC only understands one thing – “ how much can you get away with, without being accountable” …until the taxpayers ( personal and corporate) collectively voice their displeasure, nothing will change. No taxes = nothing to steal = end of the Road for the politically connected who are robbing this country of everything, including its reputation and the dignity of its people.
Wake up Cyrill, be a man and call it like it is. Do something before your taxpayers have to. It’s your job for goodness sake!

Expecting ANC parliamentarians to hold the executive to account is like expecting the fox to guard the henhouse or any clichè of your choice. This is an organised criminal organisation with all its members sworn to allegiance to it and nothing else. It has a singular purpose: to loot as much as possible for as long as possible until Jesus comes back(to quote Zuma).

An oath, a promise, a contract, a vow, ethics, honour, honesty, trust. These are are totally foreign concepts to these folks.
That is why the constitution is not worth the paper it is written on.

Why you ask? Clearly evidence has proven that there are absolutely no consequences those that violate the constitution.

Even if the ANC gang was not as diabolically corrupt – the country is circling the drain just by their BEE system and their utter incompetence.
Sad thing is that all the rot and theft the ANC represents seems to be not comprehended by their voters whose lives could be substantially better would we have a competent , non corrupt government.

Facilitator and first citizen “beneficiary” at the expence of his “poor brother anc voters”

TSK!!!

See right through you. So does the rest of the world.

This is a pointless line of questioning. The president is put there by the party not by the citizens and the party can remove him. It is impossible to be president in South Africa without doing the bidding of the party.

Anyone who did not support Zuma or appeared to not support him was immediately ousted. What exactly was Ramaphosa supposed to do. Had he made any moves against Zuma he would of been relegated to nothing and probably not even had a seat at the table. This guy has had to tolerate his party’s support of Zuma, the hostility of factionalism within his party and even now he has to spend half his productive time watching his back.

The biggest structural problem we have is the make up of the ANC. They way it is formalized and the power it wields over the sitting government. The ANC was formed a struggle and freedom movement not a political party. It’s charter is no longer relevant and it’s failing the masses, HOWEVER there are very few stories that end well in Africa where there has been a strong opposition party to the ruling incumbents.

There are so many powerful people who have benefitted from the proceeds of corruption extending into Trillions of rand. The voting populace are not sophisticated enough to understand the ramifications of this let alone understand what a trillion rand means. The ANC rhetoric around BEE AA quotas land racism etc is designed to keep them in power as it appeals to the masses. The reality is that members of the party and party connected have systematically misappropriated enough money to close the poverty gap in SA by more than a few basis points.

The ANC top government is paralyzed in their attempts to appease everyone especially the party. Ramaphosa has no choice but to introduce changes very slowly else face the firing squad so to speak. I blame his inefficiency on the party not him. Let’s not be naïve enough to think that should Ramaphosa begin a mass round up of the perpetrators that it will end well for anyone.

He is a very clever man doing a thankless job. Unfortunately the next president will face the same challenges unless the ANC is re-invented, which seems highly unlikely.

Thankless job & clearing out the rot is wishful thinking at best.
Deputy president & in the the thick of it for years….Heading up Eskom’s war room response team….&&&
He maybe a nice guy & I would so like to think as you have described the situation. I just don’t see any evidence anywhere…Party 1st Finish & Klaar

While I agree that his hands are tied by the party and those from the Zuma era, I don’t believe his hands are clean. His sons involvement with Bosasa springs readily to mind.

Cyril Ramaphosa is not worthy of being called President. Just not worthy.

just ask oneself this simple question: since the anc took over what in any sphere of society improved??

it spells it out loud and clear that the anc does not want to call anc members to account in the president’s own words of “The party functions as a collective,” said Ramaphosa, adding that “this happens all over the world”. – so does it mean that if a person is a member of the anc loots / steals / or does any other wrong doing, the anc “absorb” this wrong doing collectively and the actual guilty person walks away as a free man – if this is the anc’s way of managing their own organization and their way to live above the law that counts for any other sa citizen, small wonder that the whole sa is in the deplorable state that is – It clearly emphasizes the fact that they still live under the impression that “freedom” means to live above the law and anybody can do as one likes with no consequences – worst is they actually practice what they preach this misconception

Agree with all of the above. We have a government of thieves.

high treason pure and simple. Parliament just a posing of fools on the red carpet. Totally useless by design.

The ANC allowed the looting of State resources by the Guptas, cadres and those who are politically connected. Corruption is allowed to continue unabatedly without any consequences. The ANC is doing their level best to defend the undefendable. State Capture is the legacy of the ANC, just as Apartheid is the legacy of the NP. Both are evil and cannot be justified.

“Ramaphosa replied that [MPs] represent the party, they don’t represent themselves”.

Well, if one thing comes out of his testimony it’s that : the admission that they’re not there to represent the people of this country.

exactly it came from the snake’s mouth, SA will not come first under ANC Rule, they feel that they need to eat until there is nothing to eat and then start eating each other.

Surely the parliamentarians who violate their oath of office should be dismissed? But then we live in ANC lala land!

Ramaphosa said that once the “Gupta emails came out it became clear to us that there must be a response of one sort or another”

… the ordinary man in the street could see the country was being looted without the emails.

ANC = BLINDED organisation, no vision, no future except for looting.

Looks like progress. denial anger bargaining depression acceptance what’s the next step.

Whilst all these shenanigans is being exposed; the opposition parties are NOT making inroads. In fact the opposition parties are taking a knock.

To knock the ANC of the pedestal could only done by a breakaway party or a new party altogether.

The RET , Unions and Communist party are lightweights.

My grandson can grow a root in cotton wool faster than the ANC’s oversight and accountability plan needs to “take root”.

The president was one of the first persons to get the vaccine. He should have set an example and been the last. Which other cadres also had it. Yet preventing private institutions from sourcing their own. They have no integrity.

Talk, talk, talk.
Spend, spend, spend.
Arrests?
Civil Suits against the perpetrators?
Convictions?
Resignations?
Assertive Actions?
Haven’t seen any so far……

End of comments.

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