'People have nothing muddy to throw' - ANC caucus accepts Ramaphosa's Bosasa correction

2018-11-22 15:30
President Cyril Ramaphosa before he were to address the ANC caucus on Tuesday morning. (Jan Gerber/News24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa before he were to address the ANC caucus on Tuesday morning. (Jan Gerber/News24) (Jan Gerber)

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The ANC parliamentary caucus has accepted the written correction President Cyril Ramaphosa made to his comments on the Bosasa donation to his campaign for the ANC presidency last year.

Last week, Ramaphosa backtracked on a response he gave before the National Assembly over a R500 000 payment from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, allegedly for the benefit of his son, Andile. 

The October 2017 payment was actually a donation towards his ANC presidential campaign, which Ramaphosa said was made without his knowledge.

This emerged in a letter Ramaphosa drafted to the speaker of the National Assembly, dated November 14, which stated that he inadvertently provided incorrect information in his response.

"As caucus, we applaud the honesty and sincerity with which the president has handled this matter by providing a correction upon having realised he had made a mistake in his oral reply to Parliament," said Mthembu.

Mthembu pointed out that it is not the first time that Ramaphosa provided a correction to a response he gave to the National Assembly. On August 28, he also wrote to Speaker Baleka Mbete correcting the figure he had provided for his predecessor's legal fees to the state.

Call for Parliament's rules to allow corrections 

"Parliament works on the basis of rules, precedence, practices and conventions," Mthembu said. "And because the president previously corrected information in relation to costs and this was accepted, the recent correction was therefore consistent with that practice and approach."

Mthembu said Parliament's rules should be amended for instances where incorrect answers were provided unwittingly and to allow corrections to be made within specific time frames. 

"Based on our rules and various rulings that would have been made by various presiding officers over the years, President Ramaphosa did not intentionally and wilfully mislead the House. His conduct would therefore not be categorised as unparliamentary," Mthembu said.

"No political party represented in Parliament has brought forward a substantive motion, as our rules dictate, that the president's actions on this matter were unparliamentary and amounted to lying. 

"Therefore, all those parties who have rushed to make allegations that the president lied were motivated by cheap populism and politicking because such articulation is not supported by any facts," Mthembu said.

He also said if a motion is brought to the House, the ANC would not support it.

MPs' code silent on benefits from campaign funds

"People have nothing muddy to throw at President Ramaphosa. They saw this as an opportunity to throw as much mud as you can on the person of President Ramaphosa. This will happen before an election," Mthembu said.

Mthembu said the MPs' ethics code is silent on benefits that derive from campaign finance. He compared it to the case of DA leader Mmusi Maimane who didn't declare his campaign finances, but Parliament found he wasn't in breach of the ethics code as the money wasn't paid to him, but to his campaign.

The Party Funding Bill, which is awaiting Ramaphosa's signature, is also silent on campaign finances.

Earlier this year News24 revealed that several high-ranking ANC members in government or Parliament received of Bosasa's largesse. The company is believed to have government contracts worth R10bn.

Senior ANC MP Vincent Smith allegedly received R670 000 and security upgrades to his house from Bosasa over the past three years.

Smith said the payments were a personal loan from former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi and he was unaware that the money came from Bosasa. He said he paid for the security upgrades to his house himself.

'Dishing out of favours' must be probed

It was further reported that Bosasa has, since at least 2013, installed high-end CCTV cameras, alarm systems and electric fencing for ministers Gwede Mantashe and Nomvula Mokonyane, and Deputy Justice and Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla.

Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, former prisons boss Linda Mti and one-time procurement manager for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa Mbulelo Gingcana allegedly also benefitted from Bosasa's largesse.

Mantashe and Mokonyane would at the time neither confirm nor deny that Bosasa installed the security systems, while Makwetla said Bosasa refused to charge him for it, despite several requests.

Despite the cloud of corruption that has been hanging over Bosasa for at least 12 years, the company continues to reap the rewards of several government contracts.

Mthembu said the people who requested the donation for the campaign should have known with which company they were dealing with.

"They must be circumspect in future to which company they ask a donation," Mthembu said.

He said Bosasa, or any other company, "dishing out favours" must be subjected to a "proper investigation".

Read more on:    bosasa  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  jackson mthembu  |  parliament  |  cape town
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