President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya on Sunday dismissed calls by Ramaphosa’s critics for him to vacate his office over Phala Phala game farm burglary.
On Friday, ANC presidential hopefuls and RET faction groupings also called on Ramaphosa to step down during a tense NEC meeting.
Magwenya said he won’t comment on ANC NEC discussions as he isn’t an NEC member, but said Ramaphosa has complied with the investigations and submitted his responses “on deadline and on time”.
“There are no criminal charges laid against the president. The enshrined presumption of innocent until found guilty applies here.
“Maybe that statement should be directed to those calling for him to resign. The president has been publicly saying that he will step aside should he be charged, and as it is now, there are no criminal charges but ongoing investigations on the matter.”
Leading the call for Ramaphosa to resign at the three-day NEC gathering were supporters of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction supporting either former health minister Zweli Mkhize or Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Dlamini-Zuma was reportedly steadfast on the Phala Phala debacle, saying Ramaphosa should go. She was said to have been supported by former Cosatu president and small business development Deputy Minister Sidumo Dlamini, staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma Tony Yengeni, and ANC MP Tandi Mahambehlala.
The beleaguered Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing, including allegations of money laundering, after the thieves stole large amounts of foreign currency from the game farm two years ago.
His critics not only want him to step down but want to ensure he won’t contest for a second term at the ANC’s crucial December elective conference.
Ramaphosa and Sisulu’s work relations ‘cordial’
Asked to comment on the work relations between the president and his foremost public critic in his Cabinet, RET supporter and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Magwenya said their relationship was “cordial”.
“There are no problems in their work relationship. She serves at the prerogative of the president. As for what she said about me, I don’t have a comment on that.”
The tourism minister lambasted Magwenya earlier this month for his comments on Sisulu and deputy minister Phumolo Masualle’s remarks that the Phala Phala revelations were a sign that Ramaphosa must resign.
In one of his regular briefings, Magwenya said there was an established decorum between ministers and Ramaphosa.
“That behaviour is more of a reflection on them than the president… the president has never publicly berated any of his Cabinet members… if he has any concerns about their performance, he does so on a one-on-one basis.”
Sisulu replied in fiery a statement, saying Magwenya “parachuted himself” into ANC politics.
Ramaphosa is expected to address the NEC meeting when it closes on Sunday afternoon.