Cyril’s “Line In The Sand” Drawn on Shifting Sand

By Pinky Khoabane

ABOUT two weeks ago President Cyril Ramaphosa reprimanded his comrades on corruption, accusing the party of being Accused No1 when it came to corruption and together with the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) days later, met and outlined a series of regulations the leaders and members should follow if facing corruption charges or allegations of corruption. 

In a press briefing following the special NEC meeting, Ramaphosa repeatedly spoke of the party having “drawn a line in the sand” giving the impression that acts of corruption would not be tolerated and those who faced corruption or allegations of corruption would have to vacate leadership roles in the party and in government. 

Without naming his comrades, he however mentioned that some had already resigned from positions of leadership for which he thanked them, profusely I might add. As we’ve come to learn, there are tensions at branch level, where lists of those convicted or facing corruption charges are supposed to be compiled. There are also issues of how the party deals with people who have a long list of allegations of corruption but have never been charged. These include Secretary General Ace Magashule but the President himself who has asked that his donors to the Presidency be sealed. 

Indeed leading up to and post the special meeting of the NEC of a few weeks ago, three prominent members took a decision or were forced to step aside from their positions; Zandile Gumede, who faces corruption charges over a tender while she was mayor of eThekwini decided to step aside from her appointment as Kwazulu-Natal Member of the Provincial Legislature; Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa was asked to step down over his conviction and 2 years sentence for smashing a jug over the head of a DA councillor Rano Kayser; and ANC MP Bongani Bongo who faces charges of corruption over allegations that he bribed the evidence leader of a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at the power utility Eskom. Bongo, who had supposedly resigned, has now questioned the legal grounds on which the party wanted him to go. 

All three are out on bail following several postponements for Gumede and Bongo while Lungisa is expected to file papers in the Constitutional Court seeking leave to appeal against the two-year sentence.

Just as some South African citizens thought the President had finally gotten a hold on his party, it was reported that a group of ANC members had flown to Zimbabwe to meet Zanu PF. That they had broken Level2 Lockdown regulations by travelling to another country is one thing, then it also emerged they had hitchhiked on an airforce plane with Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. 

The President swiftly demanded an explanation from the Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, which he has apparently received and media reports say he is satisfied with the explanation. But of course, the President has’nt as yet shared the details of the report with the public. On the other hand, the ANC has apologised and has committed to paying the state. That is well and good but many questions abound, aside from the issues raised by the President himself in his 48hour deadline in which among others stated that it was in “the interest of good governance, and the prudent and ethical use of state assets” that she explains what happened. 

The defence ministry’s spokesperson Bongani Dlamini has since been on numerous media platforms to explain that the Minister has the responsibility over all assets of the defence force and therefore made the decision to give the ANC delegation a lift since she was going there. 

The immediate question is why, the President, who presumably knew of the Minister’s trip would seek an explanation in “the interests of good governance” etc?

Did The President Appoint the ANC Members to Meet Zanu PF?

Not so long ago when the crisis in Zimbabwe emerged, the President appointed two envoys to visit Zimbabwe. If indeed, he appointed the ANC delegation, is this not a concession that the two envoys failed?

One of the issues the President allegedly wanted in his 48hrs deadline report to Mapisa-Nqakula was a list of those who had flown in the airforce jet. Now, if he had appointed these comrades to address the Zimbabwe issue, why did he ask Mapisa-Ngakula for the list? And by the way, that the Zimbabwe issue is of national interest is not contested here. It is the truth that I seek to establish. 

Last night, I posted a tweet asking if the President was aware of the delegation which included who I initially thought were two ministers but upon closer inspection of pictures of the delegation’s arrival here or in Harare, indicated there could have been more than two ministers. With the masks and weaves, I may well be wrong. But Tony Yengeni who was among the delegation stated emphatically that: “We were sent to Zimbabwe by the President and his National Executive was Not some joy ride as the racist DA would want you to believe..!”

My follow up question was which hat the President wore at the time of their sending. Was he acting as President of ANC or President of State? Yengeni hasnt responded yet. 

But if indeed the President sent the ANC delegation, which he doesnt seem to be questioning in his demand for a report from the Defence Minister, why is he acting surprised – and here I’m speculating. 

How was this delegation supposed to travel? 

On several occasions during his interviews with various media houses, Defence Minister’s spokesperson Dlamini explained that the Minister was going there anyway and this was a matter of national interest and therefore she gave the ANC delegation a ride. He didnt respond to who asked who for the ride but that “there were discussions”. This is a matter of a party which has not yet separated the issue of party and state as a ruling party. He also mentions frequently that “there were discussions”. This I also understand fully: Comrades talk and implement. 

However, if the President delegated his Comrades, did it occur to all parties that we had lockdown and did they discuss how they would be traveling? 

Does The President Really Not Know About The Cdes Being On the Airforce Plane?

One of the issues the President mentioned in his letter to ANC comrades in which he accused the party of being No 1 Accused in Corruption was the issue of transparency. I responded in part to that assertion here, that the long line of evidence shows the ANC and himself as an individual did’nt adhere to transparency.

The President needs to make the report available so that we understand the basis on which he came to the conclusion of “satisfaction” with the Zimbabwe trip. 


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