Cyril faces a grilling

2013-10-27 14:00

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ANC deputy president will have to explain to the Marikana Commission of Inquiry why he put ‘pressure’ on police

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa will be hauled before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam.

He will be asked to explain the alleged pressure he exerted on police, ahead of the killing of 34 miners in Marikana last year.

This week, a transcript of a high-level meeting came to light in which Ramaphosa was further implicated as a force behind the ramped-up police action that preceded the miners’ deaths.

Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the ANC, will have to tell the commission how and why he pressurised Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa into acting against the miners.

Highly placed sources within the Farlam commission say Mthethwa will also be called to testify about his role and the “pressure” he was under. One top lawyer said: “These two (Ramaphosa and Mthethwa) have to testify, especially with all this new information coming to light and their names being connected to it. This is the smoking gun.”

City Press understands that Mthethwa will be asked about all the calls Ramaphosa made to him in the days prior to the shooting. He will also be asked why the police did not make this damning transcript available to the commission.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Steyn Speed, said the commission had not yet subpoenaed Ramaphosa.

“He did indicate that he was available to the commission any time it called him to testify. He’s waiting on the commission to tell him when,” said Speed.

The transcript details a lengthy meeting, held two days before the shooting, which was dominated by a conversation between Lonmin executive Barnard Mokwena and North West provincial police commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.

In it, Mbombo says Ramaphosa was pressurising Mthethwa to act to end the violent strike at the Karee mine near which nine people had already been killed.

“When I was speaking to Minister Mthethu (Mthethwa) he mentioned a name to me (of someone who was) also calling him, (who was) pressurising him. Unfortunately, it is a (person of) political high (office),” Mbombo said. “I know that when I spoke to the minister he mentioned Cyril.”

The transcript also reveals how Mbombo did not want then expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema to be the one to defuse the situation at the mine.

Mbombo said Ramaphosa was the chairman of the ANC national disciplinary committee of appeals that had upheld Malema’s expulsion and this additional factor needed to be considered.

“Hence I just told these guys that we need to act such that we kill this thing. If today we do not find cooperation in these people, we need to move in such (a way) that we kill it,” she said.

Earlier this year, copies of emails between Ramaphosa and Lonmin management were entered into evidence at the commission.

In the first email, sent the day before the shooting, Ramaphosa wrote that he had spoken to Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu about her inaction and silence. He also said he planned to speak to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe about how the ANC should intervene.

In a subsequent message, he wrote of the “dastardly criminal” acts that needed “concomitant action”. And in an email at 3pm that afternoon, he wrote that Shabangu agreed that the situation was no longer a labour dispute but a criminal act and she would “correct her characterisation of what we are experiencing”.

Ramaphosa wrote: “She is going into Cabinet and will brief the president as well and get the minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa, to act in a more pointed way ... Let us keep the pressure on them to act correctly.”

Injured miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana said he was waiting for the country’s leaders to testify.

“It’s been clear from the start that our leaders were involved. Something on this scale could not have happened if they did not give the go-ahead,” he said.

“It will be interesting to hear how Ramaphosa explains this evidence. He still wants to be our president, yet he has done this to us. What kind of president will he be?”

Ramaphosa is the second most popular ANC leader in Gauteng after President Jacob Zuma.

He received nominations for top government positions from 208 branches, while Zuma received 229.

This suggests branches are not concerned about the cloud of Marikana that hovers over him.

An ANC member in Limpopo, where branches first nominated Ramaphosa for deputy president ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung conference, said the “smear” campaign against Ramaphosa and Lonmin over Marikana came from detractors who did not want to see him succeed.

“It didn’t work for them then and it also will not work for them now,” he said.

Already some branches have indicated they want to have Ramaphosa as number two on their parliamentary list, which means he is likely to be chosen to become Zuma’s deputy after next year’s elections. – Additional reporting by Sabelo Ndlangisa and Carien du Plessis

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