Johannesburg - Claims by the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has conflicts of interest are “unsubstantiated”, a spokesperson said on Thursday.
At an ANCYL media briefing in Irene, Tshwane on Wednesday, the youth wing took aim at Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
ANCYL spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize accused Ramaphosa and Gordhan of having links to international service and products company Bidvest.
The ANCYL further accused Gordhan of having a 20% stake in airline company Comair, which operates low cost carrier Kulula.
Mkhize said the new SAA board is being forced to give Bidvest business because of these alleged links.
"Who is there [at Bidvest]? Among those we know is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and [the] minister himself Pravin Gordhan," Mkhize said.
But Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, countered the ANCYL’s claim.
"People need to check their facts before making unsubstantiated claims,” Mamoepa told Fin24 by phone.
"The deputy president has no financial interest in Bidvest.
"He has disposed of all interests that would have been a conflict of interest,” Mamoepa said as he explained that statements to this effect had been released in 2014 and 2015.
According to a list of parliamentary declarations of MPs in 2015, Ramaphosa did not have shares or financial interests in Bidvest or Comair at the time.
ANCYL hits out at Gordhan
Mkhize alleged that Gordhan was exerting pressure on SAA to close some of its lucrative routes, including the London flight to favour British Airways (BA).
In South Africa, Comair operates BA on domestic and regional flights.
"Comrade Pravin owns nothing less than 20% of Comair. So what you are doing in essence is we are ensuring the collapse of SAA to create for private business," said Mkhize.
A Treasury spokesperson did not want to comment on the claims by the ANCYL about Gordhan, but instead pointed to public information of Comair and Bidvest’s shareholding.
Gordhan did not have any shares or financial interests in Comair, according to a 2015 list of MPs' financial interests.
However, under a segment listed shares and other financial interest for Gordhan, he is listed as having a nominal value of R125 341.37 in Bidvest, according to this parliamentary declarations document.
According to 4-traders.com, the Bidvest Group and Allan Gray are the biggest shareholders in Comair with a respective 26.9% and 12.5% stake in airline company.
Gordhan, though, is not indicated as having a 20% stake in Comair, as the ANCYL claims. Gordhan is also not listed as a director of the airline company, according to recent financial reports published on the Comair website.
The ANCYL is seen as being part of a faction opposing Ramaphosa for president of the ruling ANC.
Earlier this year, the ANCYL also called for the ANC to elect its first female president, signalling the youth wing’s possible opposition to Ramaphosa.
The ANC plans to hold its elective conference in December this year. And despite calls from the movement not to publicly disclose campaigns for the top post, the battle has already started heating up.
The ANC has won every national election since 1994, meaning that the party’s new president could become South Africa’s next leader in 2019 when the next vote is held.