Ramaphosa says it would be his ‘greatest pleasure’ to appear before Zondo Commission

11 September 2018 - 19:34
By Thabo Mokone
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told Parliament that it would be his "greatest pleasure" to testify before the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Ramaphosa made the undertaking while responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday afternoon.

This comes after the DA recently mounted a public campaign to force Ramaphosa to appear as a witness before the commission of inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

DA MP in the NCOP Cathleen Labuschagne took up the issue with Ramaphosa during the presidential Q&A‚ and he indicated that he would "be happy" to give evidence before the Zondo Commission.

In contrast‚ former president Jacob Zuma‚ who has been directly implicated in several allegations of state capture‚ has stated that he saw no need to appear before the commission because nobody had presented enough evidence against him.

"As far as I'm concerned‚ if the Zondo Commission asked me to appear before it‚ I have no difficulty‚ I have no opposition. I will go with a great deal of pleasure to go before the Zondo Commission‚" said Ramaphosa.

The president said citizens deserved to know what had been taking place in government and its entities because "state was not a fiefdom of an individual".

"It's important for the people of South Africa to get to know exactly what was happening in the state and to extent that anyone of us‚ has a story to tell‚ has something to put forward to the Zondo Commission‚ we should never hide‚ we should go forward.

"In fact it‚ as you cite the ANC part of it‚ it was the ANC that asked that a commission be set up….so‚ as president of the ANC‚ I can never run away from a commission that we said we want to see set up.

"When the Zondo Commission seeks our participation‚ we will be more than happy to go to the commission."

Turning to a question from EFF MP Nkagisang Koni‚ around claims that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was conducting a "reign of terror" at SOEs‚ Ramaphosa closed ranks around his minister.

Koni claimed that Gordhan‚ who the EFF has branded "the defacto president"‚ was abusing his powers to oust senior black executives at parastatals such as Transnet and Eskom.

Ramaphosa said Gordhan was not a racist and should instead be lauded for his push to turn around SOEs that have been at the centre of state capture allegations for years.

"I do not have ministers in the cabinet who execute their tasks with unsavoury types of behaviour‚ such as racism. Ministers are not supposed to underpin their various tasks and actions by displaying any form of racism‚ sexism or tribalism.

"Now I have known Minister Gordhan for many years and I've known him to be a type of person who gets really focused in the execution of his duties and it's possible that as he does his work‚ people may feel that they're adversely affected by some of the decisions.

"Having heard what I heard in this house‚ I do know that Minister Gordhan has to be applauded for a number of actions that he's taken."

Ramaphosa also told legislators that his director-general‚ Cassius Lubisi‚ was finalising guidelines on how to conduct lifestyle audits of cabinet ministers and their deputies with the help of several state institutions.

He said the Technical Task Team consisted of the Auditor-General‚ the SAPS‚ taxman SARS‚ State Security Agency‚ Anti-Corruption Task Team‚ the Public Service Commission and Financial Intelligence Centre.

He said the task team should complete its work by end of October.

Ramphosa said he did not expect Western countries to impose sanctions on South Africa over moves to change the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

He said the international community and domestic stakeholders were increasingly embracing the idea of changing land ownership patterns.