Meeting with ANC top brass and Mbeki over Phala Phala rebuke was ‘comradely and collegial’
The ANC’s top brass met with former president Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday 11 April 2023 to discuss his leaked letter which criticised how the party had dealt with the Phala Phala matter.
The meeting reflected on the contents of Mbeki’s letter in what the party has deemed a “comradely” and “collegial spirit”. This is according to an ANC statement which also explained that discussions were mainly focussed on how the party can renew itself and build unity.
Other matters which were discussed were around constitutional democracy, including the role of parliamentary oversight, and how this needs to be managed.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far
“The meeting was unanimous in its appreciation of the urgency to renew the ANC. To this end, former president Mbeki underscored his strong support for the renewal and unity of the ANC. It is the considered view of the ANC that when all three arms of the State work in step with one another, any matter of national interest gets to be fully ventilated.
“Following a cordial and robust engagement with our former president, the ANC will continue to draw on the well of wisdom of its elders whenever the need arises,” according to the party.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Public Protector’s preliminary Phala Phala report clears Ramaphosa of wrongdoing
President Cyri Ramaphosa was a no-show at the meeting, which included all the other members of the Top Seven. Speaking to Daily Maverick, ANC Head of Presidency Sibongile Besani said while he was not privy to whether the president was present at the meeting or not, there would be nothing unusual in the president’s absence.
“Normally if the meeting is about someone, it is not unusual they do not attend,” he said.
Ramaphosa set a precedent last year when he recused himself at several of the ANC’s top brass meetings held to discuss the Phala Phala matter.
The Mbeki letter in question was written to Deputy President Paul Mashatile and was concerned about how the party had mishandled the Phala Phala scandal.
In Mbeki’s 17-page letter, he compared the Phala Phala farmgate saga faced by Ramaphosa to the Nkandla scandal involving former president Jacob Zuma.
Mbeki wrote 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 often refers to the liberal Opposition as a counter-revolution).
Mbeki believes that the party’s decision to vote against the establishment of a multi-party committee which would investigate the theft which took place at the president’s farm had further eroded public trust in the ANC.
He went on to criticise the decision made by the party to block the formation of a multi-party ad hoc committee to investigate State power utility Eskom, which was a suggestion made by the DA.
The Phala Phala saga unfolded following former spy boss Arthur Fraser’s allegations that Ramaphosa was involved in illegal activities surrounding a burglary at his farm. He claimed Ramaphosa had breached the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and that large sums of US dollars were removed from the Limpopo farm by burglars.
Since Fraser made the matter public, a Section 89 Independent Panel was established to probe the matter. The panel, led by retired Judge Sandile Ngcobo, found that there is prima facie evidence that Ramaphosa may have violated the Constitution and may have abused his powers.
However, a leaked preliminary report from the Office of the Public Protector clears Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in the handling of the theft of forex at his farm and rather points fingers at the police and the then head of the Presidential Protection Service, Major-General Wally Rhoode.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Mbeki lashes ANC’s block on parliamentary probes into Phala Phala and De Ruyter’s Eskom cartel claims
This is not the first time that Mbeki has criticised the party during Ramaphosa’s tenure. Last year during the memorial service for the party’s former deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, he said the party had failed to effectively deal with issues around its renewal, as well as unemployment, poverty and inequality, which continue to haunt the country.
Citing how poorly ANC-led municipalities had fared, according to a report by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke, Mbeki said then that local government is one of the areas the governing party has to look into and correct.
Mbeki used Mangaung as an example of a municipal government that has been paralysed by constant bickering between ANC members. The ANC-led municipality is one of 15 in the Free State that owed Eskom R16-billion as of the end of February 2022. It has been downgraded to junk status twice by ratings agency Moody’s.
In October last year, he warned the ANC that it had to prepare for fallout over the Phala Phala probe into Ramaphosa. DM