Ramaphosa fails to answer why ‘corrupt’ Zandile Gumende became KZN legislature
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday shuffled around a question if he supported the corruption-accused former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, being appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.
John Steenhuisen, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), had asked Ramaphosa during a question and answer session in Parliament if he backed the former mayor’s appointment.
Do you support Zandile Gumede’s elevation to the KZN legislature and, if not, what are you going to do about it?” he asked.
Ramaphosa eventually replied after Steenhuisen had to rise on a point of order because the president appeared to be obfuscating.
“The matter is being discussed amongst the structures of the ANC. Admittedly, the matter has caused quite a lot of disquiet and the matter is being discussed within the structures of the ANC in a very democratic manner, and leave it to those structures to deal with the matter,” Ramaphosa said.
Gumede is currently out on R50 000 bail for her alleged role in a Durban Solid Waste tender scandal amounting to over R400 million. She is facing charges of fraud and corruption, along with 16 co-accused that include councillors, officials and service providers.
Gumede has denied any involvement in the crimes, saying she is being persecuted because she is a woman leader and is disliked by the media.
She was appointed to the provincial legislature last week, and was this week appointed to the cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) committee, meaning she will have a say in how local government is run.
Ramaphosa at first tried answering the question in broad terms as he was dealing with questions about Covid-19 procurement corruption.
Steenhuisen told the president that the ANC was “pathologically incapable of self-correction” as the party was placed before the country by its leaders, before he asked him about Gumede.
“You have been talking about corruption for many years – when you were deputy president, when you were leader of government business. You defended (former president) Jacob Zuma throughout his tenure.”
Ramaphosa said he respected Steenhuisen’s “deep sentiment about corruption”.
“And I also respect the fact that he has spoken out as a South African citizen about the concerns that he and many other South African citizens have about a number of missteps, missteps that have happened in South Africa in dealing with corruption.”
The president went on to say that the outrage over corruption related to Covid-19 procurement needed to be capitalised on “in terms of ensuring we strengthen our resolve as a nation and country to end corruption”.
“Allegations around corruption have created a huge stench in our country, and our people are justifiably unhappy, angry and demoralised, and the nation’s spirit has really plummeted.”
Comparing the country to a ship, Ramaphosa told Steenhuisen: “This Titanic is not sinking, if we were to look at the steps we have taken. We are strengthening our resolve.
“For the very first time, we have almost 11 agencies in government working together looking at corruption – from a tax point of view, a government point of view, we are going to make great progress.”
Ramaphosa also said it was not the duty of a president to arrest perpetrators of corruption.
“The day that happens, you must run for the hills. The day you have a president going around investigating and prosecuting and arresting them, you have no democracy.
“The task of the president is to ensure institutions are strengthened and principles adhered to. My task is not to go around investigating this one and that one.