Ramaphosa's no-show at special NEC meeting buys more time

President Cyril Ramaphosa was a no-show at a special NEC meeting, resulting in its cancellation. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake
President Cyril Ramaphosa was a no-show at a special NEC meeting, resulting in its cancellation. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake

The ANC national executive committee (NEC) was forced to postpone its much-awaited meeting on Friday afternoon, ostensibly to allow President Cyril Ramaphosa to consult with the top six officials of the party and to decide on a way forward.

The country has been on tenterhooks since the section 89 panel report was released, which recommended that the president may have a case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.

They also said Ramaphosa might have contravened his oath of office by failing to report the crime and being in possession of over $580 000 (over R9 million) hidden on the sofa at his farm.

In a stunning development, the NEC meeting lasted only about an hour before acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile informed the media contingent camped outside the Nasrec centre the NEC had decided on this different course of action.

READ: Ramaphosa's exit won’t change economic policy, says Godongwana

Ramaphosa did not attend the meeting.

Mashatile said Ramaphosa was still in Cape Town doing further consultations on the matter.

He said he did not know who Ramaphosa was meeting: “We agree the matter is urgent. That is why we want to deal with it properly. We don’t want to miss any step out of this meeting. We want to meet as officials, get the report, discuss it, meet with the national working committee (NWC) and come back to the NEC.”

Mashatile said the NEC would reconvene on Monday to discuss the issue, having been informed of the outcomes of the NWC.

Since the panel report came out on Wednesday, the ANC's top six officials had not met.

Mashatile added: 

I don’t know the details of the president’s consultation. The mood in the NEC was that there was an urgency to resolve the issue and get on with the responsibility of governing the country.

But the party’s chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, contradicted Mashatile, saying they did not know why Ramaphosa failed to attend the meeting even though he was also invited.

Several NEC members were angry that a meeting was called without proper planning.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo said what happened was a waste of time because they were called to a meeting, which was later cancelled.

“South Africans are waiting for the ANC to review the report and give direction as a matter of urgency,” he said, criticising the way the meeting was handled, adding it was mismanaged.

Mtolo said they expected Ramaphosa to do what was right for the country because the ANC could not afford to have the matter drag on until 2024. 

READ: 'Give the president time' Gungubele pleads with South Africans after release of report

Asked if the president must step aside, Mtolo said: 

As KwaZulu-Natal, we don’t believe in the step-aside rule and, therefore, cannot call him to do so, but we are saying he must do the right thing for the sake of the country.

When pressed further to clarify what he meant by the right thing, he explained a decision that would be good for the ANC and the country, alluding to a call for him to resign.

Some party members blamed the officials for calling the urgent NEC meeting before the report was dealt with through the correct channels. They argued that the matter was supposed to be discussed by the top six, then the NWC and lastly, the NEC.

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