The investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments, heard in a leaked audio, is unlikely to be concluded in time, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane is investigating Ramaphosa for alleged violation of the Executive Code of Ethics over the alleged misuse of public funds for ANC campaigns.
The investigation was launched after ANC MP Mervyn Dirks wrote a letter to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in December 2021 requesting that Ramaphosa be subpoenaed to answer for comments he made in the leaked audio recording.
Despite the ANC suspending and launching disciplinary proceedings against him, Dirks also filed a complaint with the Public Protector’s Office to investigate the matter.
Mkhwebane’s spokesman Oupa Segalwe confirmed last month that an investigation – which was to last 30 days – was launched after receiving the complaint from Dirks, who did not reverse his suspension.
Ramaphosa probe ‘ongoing’
Mkhwebane published several reports on Monday, saying the investigation is currently underway, and “that’s all I can say for now”.
However, she said it was unlikely her office would complete the investigation in the prescribed time.
“It doesn’t seem [like] we will be able to complete the inquiry within 30 working days as required by the [Executive Members Ethics] to trade [82 of 1998]’ said the Public Protector during a media briefing.
Mkhwebane indicated that her office had approached parliament about this.
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“We will notify the Speaker of the National Assembly as the Ethics of the Executive Members is clear where to report if we are unable to finalize [an investigation] within 30 working days.
†[The investigation] will focus only on the behavior of [the president]and we will not investigate the behavior of MPs because we have no jurisdiction,” she said.
The public defender also couldn’t say how long it would take to complete the investigation.
“We [are] still collecting evidence. We are still asking for affidavits [because] we investigate independently [and also looking at] whether the investigation will continue and how it will proceed. So I wouldn’t say when [the investigation will be finalised]Mkhwebane added.
Mkhwebane’s comments come after Scopa decided not to invite Ramaphosa to appear before the committee.
Scopa had given Ramaphosa ten days to respond to the charges after the commission chose not to subpoena the president.
Ramaphosa’s replies, as well as legal advice from Parliament’s legal service, were presented to the committee at a Scopa meeting on February 16.
During the meeting, six MPs voted not to invite Ramaphosa, against the four MPs who wanted the president to appear before the committee.
READ MORE: Ramaphosa won’t appear before Scopa on ANC audio leaked after MPs vote
After the vote, Scopa chairman Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the committee would review the legal advice and establish “an operational framework” to pave a way forward.
According to the legal opinion, Scopa has the mandate to investigate Ramaphosa’s comments “if, indeed, public funds of a government department or public entity had been used for unauthorized purposes”.
However, the commission cannot “handle the president’s alleged ethical violations” because only the public protector can determine whether Ramaphosa has broken the law.
It is not within Scopa’s mandate to consider Ramaphosa’s conduct or that he has failed to share information with the Commission of Inquiry into coup allegations, as alleged.
‘Fall on the sword’
In the leaked audio recording, Ramaphosa is heard saying that he was “willing to fall for the sword” to protect the ANC.
“All of us know that quite a bit of money used for campaigning, showing people around and doing all sorts of things comes from state and public funds. We can’t fool ourselves when it comes down to it.
“While State Security people were testifying, one of the officials said, ‘They will certainly reveal how money from the SSA was used for some campaign.’ I said heaven forbid
“I’d rather they say, ‘Yeah, you got money from this businessman for CR17 than the public finally hears that their money was being used to advance certain campaigns,'” he said at a meeting of the national executive committee of the United Nations. the ANC (NEC). †
READ MORE: Magashule: You Can’t Suspend Mervyn Dirks For ‘Doing The Right Thing’
In one of his replies, Ramaphosa explained that he relied on public information for his comments in the audio.
This relates to the comment made by Acting Director General Loyiso Jafta of SSA to the State Capture Commission.
Jafta told the committee last year that the government agency’s money was being used to fund ANC campaigns ahead of the party’s 2017 Nasrec election conference.
Jafta claimed that an amount of R125 million could not be accounted for in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.