29 June 2014

South Africa: Ramphele Suspended - Agang Deputy President

Photo: Agang SA
Mamphela Ramphele speaking on "Fear in South African Politics" (file photo).

Johannesburg — Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele was suspended as president of the party on Sunday, with a disciplinary hearing pending, deputy president Andries Tlouamma said.

"She is suspended pending the disciplinary hearing. That should be within 14 days," he said.

Ramphele was suspended because she allegedly made major decisions without consulting the national executive committee (NEC).

"She [Ramphele] appointed a task team and dissolved the NEC without consulting. She also made a decision of who should go to Parliament without consulting."

Agang interim spokesman Philip Machanick said the suspension had no standing.

"I don't think really anyone has standing to suspend her [Ramphele]. The process to reconstitute the NEC was constitutional. The discipline committee to deal with a matter like that was not consulted," he said.

"It seems these people created their own NEC and disciplinary committee on the fly without consulting anyone. The meeting they called is very unprocedual."

Machanick said it was believed people were bussed in that were not even Agang SA members.

"If you are going to do something on a democratic level, you don't just find a location and bus in supporters."

Tlouamma said Ramphele was implicated in a fraud case therefore she was unfit to lead the party until she was cleared.

"She will be served with the suspension latter tonight [Sunday] pending the date of the disciplinary hearing."

The decision to suspend Ramphele was taken at a NEC meeting which was held in Alexandra, Johannesburg, he said.

Machanick said the claim Ramphele opened the bank account had not been backed up by any evidence.

"This whole thing originally broke with allegations of fraud which has never been substantiated," he said.

"The claim she [Ramphele] opened the bank account is simply a smoke screen or prelude to set up all this chaos".

Tlouamma said party chairman Mike Tshishonga would be acting president until the charges against Ramphele were dealt with.

Early Sunday morning in a statement, Machanick said the High Court in Johannesburg was approached to stop the meeting, where the decision to suspend Ramphele was taken, from happening.

Tloumma said: "They got an interdict, which we quickly went to court, and reversed it."

Machanick said the problem with the faction against Ramphele was that they had nothing to lose.

"Even if the party collapses, two of the people we are fighting against are MPs," he said.

"So, the MPs can pretty much sit in Parliament sleeping for five years since they don't have anyone to account to."

On the other hand, those in the party had its dignity and that of its supporters to think about, and keeping true to Agang SA's founding values, Machanick said.

Earlier this month, Ramphele and Tshishonga opened separate fraud cases with police over the bank account opened to receive a refund from the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), believed to be around R200,000.

The New Age newspaper had reported Tshishonga accused Ramphele of having direct access to party funds, and that she opened the account to access the IEC deposit without a mandate from the party.

Tshishonga claimed his signature appeared on the bank account's paperwork without his knowledge.

On June 13, Ramphele warned that members who tarnished her image in the media would be suspended. She criticised members involved in factionalism.

On June 15, a meeting was held in Johannesburg by a faction of the party to cast a vote of no confidence in Ramphele.

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