7 March 2019

South Africa: Bosasa - Parliament Protecting 'Ubaba Kaandile', Complains Maimane

Photo: SABC Digital News/YouTube
President Cyril Ramaphosa

"We have moved from a parliamentary culture of protecting uBaba kaDuduzane, to now protecting uBaba kaAndile."

This was DA leader Mmusi Maimane's reaction after President Cyril Ramaphosa refused to answer his question about how much the contract between his son, Andile, and scandal-ridden facilities management company African Global Operations (AGO), formerly Bosasa, is worth.

Ramaphosa was answering questions in the National Assembly - the final presidential question session of the Fifth Parliament - when Maimane waved a copy of the contract between his son and Bosasa at the president and said the value of the contract for "strategic and financial advisory services" had been redacted.

"I think we can agree, an example must be set from the top," Maimane said.

"Your party has a generally corrupt relationship with Bosasa.

"How much has your son benefitted from Bosasa?" Maimane asked the president.

"It is an easy answer. It is a straightforward answer," Ramaphosa said, calmly.

'Nothing to hide'

Ramaphosa said the Public Protector was working on the matter, and all the relevant information would be submitted to her by himself, his son and other people.

"The matter is now with the Public Protector," he said.

"There is really nothing to hide."

He said while the initial approach had been that the amount was confidential company information, it must be disclosed to the Public Protector.

Last year, Ramaphosa told Parliament in an answer to a question from Maimane that his son had received money from Bosasa for services rendered in terms of a consultancy contract. He told Parliament then that he had seen this contract.

Ramaphosa later backtracked in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, saying the R500 000 payment from Bosasa was actually a donation to his ANC presidential campaign, which he had been unaware of.

The Public Protector is investigating whether Ramaphosa wilfully misled Parliament.

Ramaphosa 'accountable to Parliament, not Public Protector'

In a statement released after the question session, Maimane complained: "The president flatly refused to answer my question, stating that the Public Protector is considering the matter. This is disingenuous and simply not true. The Public Protector is investigating whether President Ramaphosa misled Parliament and violated the executive ethics code - not what his son earned from Bosasa.

"The president is accountable to Parliament, not the Public Protector, and his refusal to disclose this information shows there's something serious to hide between the Ramaphosas and Bosasa."

As was often the case when former president Jacob Zuma dodged questions, Speaker Mbete dismissed the complaints that the questions weren't answered.

"It is no surprise that the president was hastily protected by the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete. It cannot be that the president is allowed to get away with not accounting to Parliament, as was the case under the Zuma presidency. We have moved from a parliamentary culture of protecting uBaba kaDuduzane, to now protecting uBaba kaAndile," Maimane said.

"It is clear that President Ramaphosa is compromised when it comes to Bosasa," Maimane said.

He said Ramaphosa received a R500 000 "donation" from a company that has allegedly been paying the ANC bribes to secure government tenders for almost two decades.

Conflict of interest?

Maimane pointed out that Ramaphosa and his son were not the only ANC members to have benefitted from Bosasa's largesse.

"The people of South Africa must know that this system of corruption has become part of the very fabric of the ANC - regardless of who leads the organisation. It is the entire ANC that is corrupt, not just Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and his associates. It operates as a system of corruption that locks out the poor and the unemployed - to the benefit of the politically connected few," Maimane said.

Maimane wasn't the only MP who scrutinised Ramaphosa's family connections.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi, on behalf of EFF leader Julius Malema who was one of several absent EFF MPs, asked whether the president's family - brother Douglas Ramaphosa, brothers-in-law Patrice Motsepe and Energy Minister Jeff Radebe - benefitted from independent power producers and whether he does not perhaps have a conflict of interest in that regard.

Ramaphosa said when he was elected deputy president of the ANC, he divested himself from his business interests, including McDonald's, over a period of about three months. He also said that his brother and Motsepe run their own businesses.

"There is no conflict of interest. There can only be conflict of interest if you can prove it. Accusations of corruption and conflict of interest are easy to make, but if there is proof, bring the proof," said Ramaphosa.

"Some of us are guided by one principle, that we should never steal money from the people of SA. Let us get the facts before we cast aspersions."

The final question, from NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam, was around what progress government had made in downgrading the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

SA standing on 'the right side of history' on Israel

Shaik-Emam pointed out that it had been 15 months since the ANC adopted a resolution at its 2017 conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, that South Africa's embassy in Israel should be downgraded.

"Were you there?" DA MP Dean Macpherson heckled Shaik-Emam, who often gets derided by the DA for his apparent sympathy towards the ANC. Ramaphosa said plans were underway to downgrade the embassy. He said this would be done to put pressure on Israel to end its human rights violations in Palestine.

He said South Africa supports the so-called two-state solution, which acknowledges the rights of both Palestine and Israel to have a state. When he said this, he was shouted down by EFF MP Nazier Paulsen who doesn't believe that Israel has a right to have a state.

Maimane asked: "Are we going to fight for all the people who are oppressed?"

He mentioned Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Tibet.

Ramaphosa didn't mention any of these countries.

He said: "We have always stood on the right side of history. We have always supported those struggling for human rights."

After the question session, Maimane had what appeared to be a friendly chat with Ramaphosa.

"Was just wishing him well after his last president's Q and A session," Maimane responded to a News24 tweet.

News24

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