The Office of the Public Protector has confirmed receiving a complaint against President Cyril Ramaphosa relating to his alleged breach of the Executive Ethics Code.
In a statement on Thursday (27 January), the office said the law requires it to complete an investigation into Ramaphosa’s alleged breach within 30 days.
New Public Protector investigation against Ramaphosa
“The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) wishes to remind all concerned that in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Act (EMEA), the Public Protector must investigate any alleged breach of the Code on receipt of a complaint by the President, a member of the National Assembly of a permanent delegate of the National Council of Provinces if the complaint is against a Cabinet member or a Deputy Minister,” the statement said.
“The EMEA further provides that such an investigation must be completed within 30 days. The PPSA is the only accountability institution empowered under the EMEA to enforce executive ethics.”
ANC MP Mervyn Dirks lodged the complaint against Ramaphosa following a leaked voice note that was apparently taken from an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last year.
In the voice note, the President is heard saying he would rather “fall on the sword” of his CR17 campaign controversy than let the public know about other internal campaigns that had allegedly used public funds.
‘State money used in some ANC campaigns’
“In campaigns, money is used for a variety of things; we all know that. We also know as ANC cadres that in some cases, state money has been used in some campaigns. We know that; we will not talk about it. To the extent where some comrades even said that, well, let’s investigate all campaigns and not just one,” Ramaphosa is heard saying.
“I even said to the officials that I think it’s enough to focus on one only CR17 and I even said because I don’t want the ANC to be dragged once again in the mud when those assessments, investigations will reveal that a lot of public money was used.
“I said I would rather they say you got money from this business for CR17 than for the public to finally hear that their public money was used to advance certain campaigns.”
Dirks claims this was an admission by Ramaphosa that he knew of corruption and yet failed to report it to law enforcement agencies, thereby violating the Executive Ethics Code.
Dirks also reported the matter to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), which is asked the President to explain his alleged remarks in writing within 7-10 days.
In an interview with talk radio 702 in December, the ANC’s Head of Presidency Sibongile Besani denied claims that Ramaphosa was trying to hide alleged corruption from the public.
“The issue is not about the President having an aversion to accountability or incriminating himself or trying to shield corruption. He was saying, I would rather do everything at all costs so that there is a focus on the CR17 funds than to drag other campaigns in. That would be dealt with separately at a determined time,” he explained.