Ramaphosa says ANC bigwigs will meet with Zuma to tell him: 'Let us all abide by our Constitution'

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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  • The ANC's top leadership will engage with former President Jacob Zuma about his cold shoulder to the Zondo Commission, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • The message will be clear: "Let us all abide by our Constitution, respect our institutions, particularly the judiciary."
  • Ramaphosa also warned against unsubstantiated allegations directed at the judiciary.

The ANC's top leadership will engage with corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma, and the message will be clear and straightforward: "Let us all abide by our Constitution, respect our institutions, particularly the judiciary," said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa fielded questions from the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) on Friday afternoon, with the first question asked being his predecessor's defiance of the Constitutional Court and accompanying allegations that judges received money from the CR17-campaign.

On Thursday, The Witness reported that a proposed meeting between the ANC top six and Zuma had been shelved as Zuma refuses to be engaged on the matter.

READ | 'Ramaphosa is not welcome at Nkandla'

Ramaphosa said there are, "... quite a number of engagements", with Zuma.

"And one of those is an engagement that he is going to have with the top leadership of the ANC, which should be happening any day soon," he said.

"He's agreed to it, we've all agreed to it, that we are going to engage with him. He is a member, and a disciplined member of the African National Congress, and we will be able to have an engagement with him.

"And the message will be fairly simple and straightforward: Let us all abide by our Constitution, respect our institutions, particularly the judiciary."

Rule of law

Ramaphosa said for him the important thing is to insist that everyone abide by the rule of law and the Constitution.

"So there is no backing down as far as that is concerned."

READ | Zuma doubles down on decision to snub Zondo commission

Responding to Zuma's unsubstantiated accusations against the judiciary, which were also repeated by EFF leader Julius Malema, Ramaphosa said he made his position very clear in his newsletter this week.

He said if there is any evidence against a judge, it must be put before the relevant bodies, like the Judicial Service Commission.  

"Those who just throw accusations at judges, demean our Constitution, our democracy, and indeed, our nation.

"Judges are not above the law, no one is above the law. All of us as South Africans, from the president to any citizen of our country, must abide by the law, by the Constitution. Because if we don’t, then there is lawlessness in our country."

Ramaphosa denied Police Minister Bheki Cele's recent visit to Zuma was problematic.

He said Cele felt compelled to have a "heart-to-heart" discussion with Zuma, with whom he had a longstanding relationship.

He said all that was discussed was Zuma's "situation" regarding not appearing before the Zondo Commission.

In his opening remarks, Ramaphosa said the fight against corruption is gaining momentum.

"I would say it is unstoppable," he said.

READ | MKMVA goes to Nkandla to defend Zuma

However, he is not prepared to takes steps at the moment against  Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo, who was implicated in explosive testimony at the Zondo Commission, or Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. 

On Wednesday, the Daily Maverick reported that an obscure communications company, Digital Vibes, with Mkhize's former personal spokesperson and family friend Tahera Mather and his former private secretary Naadhira Mitha as paid consultants, allegedly secured an irregular communications contract from the Department of Health worth R82 million for work related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa said the Zondo Commission – which will conclude its work soon – will produce a report with findings and recommendations, then, "... there will be a follow-through".

Types

"I prefer to leave those types of matters there. I've got to be procedural."

Ramaphosa said Mkhize briefed him on the matter and he is glad Mkhize welcomes an investigation.

According to Ramaphosa, Mkhize said he was not involved in any wrongdoing and he will cooperate with an investigation.

Ramaphosa said he delivered this year's State of the Nation Address (SONA) in extraordinary circumstances.

"Instead of outlining the full range of government programmes for the year, we sought to focus on a few overriding priorities."

He said the first priority is to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The vaccination programme is one of the central pillars of this effort. Last week, we started phase one of the programme with the vaccination of health workers. To date, we have administered over 52 000 vaccines.

"South Africa has emerged from a second wave of infections and we must now do everything within our means to contain further surges. This is vitally important if we are to restore our economy to full operation," he said.

He praised South Africa's scientific community and said he is comfortable that every time he needs to make a decision, it is backed up by science.

Ramaphosa said an eye needs to be kept on the coming Easter period when people tend to congregate.

He also kept his cards close to his chest about the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle.

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