Johannesburg – South Africa’s parliament on Thursday asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to explain remarks he allegedly made in a leaked recording suggesting public funds were used in an internal election of the ruling party.
Parliament’s powerful Standing Committee on Public Accounts wrote to Ramaphosa demanding he responds “in writing to the allegations of the misuse of public funds for political party purposes”, it said in a statement.
Ramaphosa was given 10 working days to reply to the questions.
Part of the recording, reported by local media, said “each one of us knows that quite a bit of money that is used in campaigns… is often from state resources and public resources”.
The committee said it would wait to receive Ramaphosa’s written response before deciding whether to request that he appear in person before the committee to answer further questions.
Ramaphosa “owes this committee, government and citizens an explanation… about what he knows and doesn’t know,” committee chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said during a meeting on Tuesday.
“It would be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t hold the executive, including the president, accountable.”
The funds were allegedly used ahead of the ruling ANC’s hotly contested 2017 internal elections that saw Ramaphosa voted party leader, taking over from Jacob Zuma.
The deeply factional party goes to the polls in December to pick its leader, with Ramaphosa expected to seek relection.
Earlier on Thursday, a public watchdog said it had received a complaint in which a lawmaker “has alleged a breach of the executive code of ethics against the president”.
But it gave no details of the alleged breach, saying only that investigations would be finalised within 30 days.
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