Leaked audio: Cyril Ramaphosa says he has no direct information on ANC misuse of public funds

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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address.
PHOTO: Nic Bothma/AFP, Pool
  • Details have emerged of President Cyril Ramaphosa's response to Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts on allegations relating to a leaked audio recording.
  • In the audio clip, Ramaphosa can be heard admitting he was aware that the ANC had used public funds for party purposes.
  • But Ramaphosa clarified his comments.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament's finance watchdog, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that he relied on public information when he claimed the ANC abused state funds for party activities.

"I do not have any direct and specific information on the alleged misuse of public funds for party political purposes," the president added.

In January, Scopa sent Ramaphosa detailed questions on the allegations, which surfaced in a leaked audio recording.

READ | Scopa gives Ramaphosa 10 days to respond to claims that public money was used for ANC purposes

In the audio clip, Ramaphosa can be heard admitting that he was aware that the ANC had used public funds for party purposes and also suggesting that the funds came from the State Security Agency (SSA).

News24 has seen Ramaphosa's letter, dated 9 February, to Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

He said he made the comments at the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which was held from 26 to 28 March 2021.

"In this statement, made during the day on 27 March 2021, I made reference to the misuse of public funds in internal elections for leadership positions in the ANC."

He added:

The statements I made in the NEC meeting were based on allegations already in the public domain and rumours circulating within the organisation and broader society. Some of the information regarding this matter had already been in the public domain prior to the meeting at which the statement was made, of which committee members are no doubt equally aware.

Ramaphosa stressed the importance of considering the full context of what was said at the NEC meeting.

"In my capacity as president of the ANC, I am focused on the party's renewal. One of the critical areas to which we are giving attention is to promote transparency, accountability and ethical behaviour with respect to the funding of internal party activities. This requires a recognition of practices that are unacceptable and taking the necessary steps to correct these," he said.

The matter was first brought to the committee's attention by suspended ANC MP Mervyn Dirks and is the subject of an investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Ramaphosa cited the high-level review panel report on the SSA on the alleged misuse of public funds.

"This report has been in the public domain since it was published on 9 March 2019. The committee will have noted the challenges the Auditor-General has had in auditing the funds of the State Security Agency. The report has made useful recommendations to address these challenges," he said.

Another source of information, according to Ramaphosa, was the testimony of Ambassador Riaz "Mo" Shaik and Lizo Gibson Njenje before the Zondo Commission.

"They testified about what they referred to as 'misuse' of State Security Agency resources for unlawful purposes," he said.

A court case "pitting" the Independent Police Investigative Directorate against the senior leadership of the police (SAPS) regarding the alleged purchase of surveillance equipment at inflated prices was another example cited by Ramaphosa.

"This matter unfolded in court during 2020. The allegations included information that monies in excess of the actual price of the equipment were intended to be used to influence the outcome of the ANC national conference of December 2017," he said.

The Zondo Commission testimony of several others was also listed, including that of Ambassador Mzuvukile Maqetuka and an unidentified witness.

Asked whether there were any instructions to or from ministers, accounting officers or other officials or persons to release public funds or facilitate the release of public funds for party political purposes, Ramaphosa said: "I do not have such information."

He also said he had no information on what the unauthorised funds, if applicable, may have been used for and how they were captured in the financial statements and reports of the relevant organs of state.

He said he had no information whether any MPs, officials of any organ of state, ANC staff or any other person may have further relevant information in determining whether public funds were misused for party political purposes.

READ | ANC suspending Dirks will not scupper investigation into Ramaphosa, says Scopa chairperson

He also mentioned a raft of commissions, investigations and task teams he established to fight corruption.

"Since my election as president of the republic, I have taken a number of steps to uncover and end the misuse of public funds. Some of the steps taken may not necessarily fall within the purview of your committee's mandate, but they are important in the fight against corruption," he said.

Ramaphosa also said more information would become available once the final part of the Zondo Commission report was submitted.

Scopa is expected to deliberate the matter on Wednesday.

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