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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Dilemma for ANC Scopa members over Mervyn Dirks saga

Dirks is set to appear before Scopa to make representations regarding his complaint against President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday.


It seems like the ANC members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) have been caught between a rock and a hard place over MP Mervyn Dirks’ complaint against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Sunday Times has reported that ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) gave the greenlight for disciplinary action be taken against Dirks. This came after a recommendation from the national working committee (NWC).

According to the publication, the NWC concluded that Dirks’ actions has brought the ANC into disrepute after the MP asked Scopa to summon Ramaphosa to account for concealing corruption.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina placed Dirks on precautionary suspension on Thursday for his “unbecoming” conduct, and initiated disciplinary proceedings against him.

Dirks was also stripped of his parliamentary duties as the whip of Scopa after having ignored Majodina’s instruction to withdraw his request.

Despite being prohibited to participate in any Scopa activities, Dirks is expected to appear before the committee to make his representations when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday.

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

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said on Friday the committee will proceed with Dirks’ complaint as it had already started an internal process because the matter was “serious”.

“The matter brought before me by Mr Dirks, and being processed towards the committee, does fall within the ambit of matters which deserve our attention,” he said.

Hlengwa said Dirks’ suspension had “no material bearing” as the committee “reserves the right to invite or summons any person to appear before it to provide information, evidence, or representation”.

However, this has left ANC Scopa members in a dilemma on whether to side with Majodina or carry out their parliamentary duties, thus, indirectly making them side with Dirks.

According to Parliament’s website, the ANC has seven members, including Dirks, in the committee.

Dirks had been scheduled to appear before Scopa this past Friday.

The committee meeting, however, was not approved by the presiding officers of the National Assembly due to Parliament being in recess.

Scopa mandate

Dirks’ complaint relates an audio recording, where Ramaphosa is heard saying that he knew of party members who utilised public funds for their political campaigns ahead of ANC’s 2017 Nasrec elective conference.

Ramaphosa conceded in the leaked audio that was recorded during an NEC meeting 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.

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

City Press has since reported Scopa has the mandate to probe Ramaphosa’s statements “if, indeed, public funds of any government department or public entity had been utilised for unauthorised purposes”.

The committee, however, cannot “deal with any alleged ethical breaches of the president” because only Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane can determine whether Ramaphosa broke the law.

READ MORE: Bumpy road for Ramaphosa ahead of ANC conference

Scopa is permitted to call on Ramaphosa to provide information, including records, on the allegations in order to fulfil its oversight mandate, according to a legal opinion penned by chief parliamentary legal adviser Advocate Zuraya Adhikarie.

The committee could also require further information to ascertain which government departments or entities may have channelled funds unlawfully for the purposes alluded to by Ramaphosa in the audio recording.

Furthermore, it is not within Scopa’s mandate, Adhikarie stated, to consider Ramaphosa’s conduct or whether he had failed to share information with the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, as alleged.

In his letter, Dirks said he was concerned that Ramaphosa did not reveal that public funds were used when he appeared before the commission, chaired by Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, in 2021 to testify.

The MP questioned whether the president’s failure to disclose such information amounts to perjury.

Meanwhile, political analyst Oliver Dickson told SABC News recently that Ramaphosa may have violated Parliament’s executive ethics code by not disclosing “what is clearly blatant corruption” despite having knowledge of it.