Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Night Supervisor
2 minute read
25 Jan 2022
10:33 pm

Scopa to give Ramaphosa 10 days to explain remarks in leaked audio

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

'I fundamentally believe the president owes this committee, parliament and the people of South Africa an explanation and must take the country into confidence about what we do not know,' said Hlengwa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to the State of the Nation (Sona) debate in the National Assembly on 18 February 2021 in Cape Town. Picture: Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams

Members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting a response concerning the leaked audio.

This was in response to ANC MP Mervyn Dirks’ letter asking Scopa to summon the President over an audio recording, where Ramaphosa is heard saying that he knew of party members who used public funds for their political campaigns ahead of the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec elective conference.

READ MORE: ANC MP’s Ramaphosa request could pit factions against each other at NEC meeting – analyst

In the leaked audio that was recorded during an NEC meeting, Ramaphosa conceded that he is “willing to fall on the sword” to protect the ANC rather than reveal the party members’ names because he is concerned about the image of the party.

While ANC’s head of the Presidency, Sibongile Besani, confirmed that the leaked recording was authentic, he  dismissed suggestions that Ramaphosa was attempting to shield party members by covering up information on corruption.

Responding to the request, Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they would not be issuing a summons to the President as he had not shown any intention to not cooperate with the committee. The committee then resolved that they will write to Ramaphosa requesting his explanation on the matter.

“We are duty-bound as the committee to look into matters which have a direct bearing on the public purse. If no one is above the law, then no one must be above our processes. I fundamentally believe the president owes this committee, parliament and the people of South Africa an explanation and must take the country into confidence about what we do not know. Here it’s ultimately about money and the president has got information which we require,” said Hlengwa.

“The president will be given seven to 10 days to respond to the committee through a form of a statement or affidavit on the matter at hand on the basis of the utterances attributed to him as he makes them in the recording.

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“He must explain the recording and the contents thereof or therein and then the committee on the basis of that response will make a determination on how it structures its way forward including but not limited to hearings and the issue of invites to affected parties.

“A summons is the last resort because the President has not shown any intention to not cooperate with the committee. We will suspend the issue of the summons at this point. We must put this matter to the President and see his response to it. A written response from the President will help the committee to plan ahead.”

In response, Dirks said he had no regrets.

“I have no regrets about writing that letter. I was fully aware of the consequences. If I was given a chance to do it again I would do it.”

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe