Mbeki lashes ANC’s block on parliamentary probes into Phala Phala and De Ruyter’s Eskom cartel claims
The former president says the party’s use of its parliamentary majority to railroad investigations by the legislature is unconstitutional.
Former president Thabo Mbeki has whacked the ANC for blocking parliamentary inquiries into former Eskom boss Andre de Ruyter’s claims of cartels and corruption hobbling the utility.
He also compared the Phala Phala scandal facing President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Nkandla calumny, which finally took down the former head of state, Jacob Zuma.
Mbeki’s 17-page letter from ‘Thabo Mbeki Office’ to ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile has been leaked.
The ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has confirmed the veracity of the letter, while spokesperson for the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Anga Jamela, said, “We cannot authenticate anything that does not come from us directly.”
It is an excoriating and principled letter, where a furious Mbeki responds to Mashatile’s reply to parliamentary questions last week in which the newly minted deputy head of state declared his support for simple majoritarianism. (See Marianne Merten’s report here).
“The bland statement that any majority party in the legislatures has an unfettered democratic right to use its numbers to impose on the legislature whatever decision of its choice is very wrong!”
Mbeki writes that South Africa is a “Constitutional Democracy” which imposes duties on political parties; South Africa is not run by a system of “Parliamentary sovereignty which the counter-revolution repeatedly argues for.” (Mbeki always often refers to liberal opposition as a counter-revolution).
For page after page, Mbeki quotes Ramaphosa’s key August 2020 anti-corruption speech back to the ANC. The most quoted line is, “The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as accused number one.” He says that in nine months since former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid the Phala Phala charges at the Rosebank police station, “none of the questions has been answered. The recent report by SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter that no record of the declaration to Customs has been found of the $580,0000 deepens the puzzle about what exactly happened at Phala Phala farm.”
Mbeki said that by squashing a multi-party committee parliamentary investigation into the issue, the ANC eroded public trust in it even further. He used voting figures showing that the ANC’s margin of victory had declined precipitously from 2004 to the last local government election in 2021.
“Without doubt, the wrong positions we took about the Nkandla matter impacted the standing of the ANC with many among the masses of our people…
“It is equally without doubt that any wrong position we take with regard to the Phala Phala matter will also in equal measure or more, impact negatively on the standing of the ANC…”.
“The way we (the ANC) voted on 13 December 2022 to block the process of the formation of an MPC [multi-party committee] communicated the unequivocal statement to the masses of the people that we do not want Parliament to seek and gain a deeper and comprehensive understanding of the Phala Phala matter.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far
Months later, in March 2023, the party again blocked calls for forming multi-party ad-hoc committees to investigate Phala Phala and corruption at Eskom moved by the DA, says Mbeki’s letter.
The letter reads: “…the public would expect that our Government would act immediately to investigate serious allegations of criminality directed at weakening the SOEs (state-owned enterprises), such as those made by the outgoing Eskom CEO André de Ruyter when he said that Eskom was afflicted by severe instances of corruption, sabotage and criminal cartels…
“It will have come across to this public as very strange and disturbing that when a proposal was made that Parliament should undertake such a focused investigation into the alleged criminality at Eskom, we [the ANC] promptly voted against an eminently correct proposal [from the DA].”
Mbeki wrote to Mashatile as deputy president of the ANC because Ramaphosa has repeatedly recused himself from ANC discussions on Phala Phala.
In July last year, Mbeki was scathing of the ANC for failing on poverty alleviation and reducing inequality, saying that the party risked its own Arab spring if it did not address these burning issues. The ANC’s leadership had failed to renew the party and provide basic services to citizens, he said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Thabo Mbeki slams ANC for failing on unemployment, poverty and inequality
In October last year, he warned the ANC that it had to prepare for a fallout over the Phala Phala probe into Ramaphosa. DM