- Scopa resolved that utterances attributed to Cyril Ramaphosa in a leaked audio deserved a written explanation from the president.
- Scopa will be writing to Ramaphosa to demand that he explain the serious utterances attributed to him.
- The chairperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said the matter was urgent and deserved to be prioritised.
Members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), who met virtually on Tuesday, have resolved to write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to demand a written response concerning the utterances attributed to him in a leaked audio.
In the audio recording, he appears to admit to knowing about public funds being used for ANC purposes.
The Scopa members met to discuss a letter, submitted two weeks ago by suspended ANC MP Mervyn Dirks, to Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, which calls for Ramaphosa to be investigated on allegations related to the misuse of public funds attributed to him in the leaked audio recording.
Dirks had, in his letter, proposed that Ramaphosa be summoned before the committee and explain the utterances he seemingly makes on the recording.
But, after a more than two-and-a-half hour deliberation, the Scopa committee members, the majority of whom are ANC MPs, resolved that summoning the president ought to be the last resort.
"At this point, we do not have cause to suspect any lack of cooperation from the president and, as such, writing to him and soliciting an explanation regarding the utterances attributed to him should suffice.
"We will, however, inform him that we reserve our right to compel him to appear before us. A statement, explanation or affidavit should be appropriate at this stage from the president as a means of explaining the serious remarks he is said to have made in the recording," said Hlengwa.
The Scopa chairperson said the parliamentary legal team and the Scopa secretary would draft the letter to be sent to the president, to request him to explain his remarks.
After the letter is drafted, Scopa committee members will be furnished with a copy, so they can ensure they are not misrepresented in the correspondence to the president.
A resolution was also taken that Ramaphosa would be given seven to 10 days, after receipt of the letter, to respond.
Hlengwa made it clear that, as per the legal opinion received by Scopa, the committee still had the right to ask Ramaphosa to appear before the committee or be served with summons should he refuse to cooperate.
ANC Scopa members vehemently defended Ramaphosa. They said they understood the seriousness of the matter, but they also wished the matter not be dealt with from an emotive aspect.
The DA's Robert Lees, Benedicta van Minnen, and the EFF's Veronica Mente concurred that Scopa had not reached a stage where the committee needed to resort to issuing a summons to Ramaphosa to attend.
Given that Dirks had already written to the Public Protector's office to request that it, too, investigate Ramaphosa, Hlengwa said Scopa would also be writing to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Auditor-General and the State Security Agency, who are parties which will be affected by Scopa's investigation, so that there is no duplication of investigative processes.
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