Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SOWETAN
Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SOWETAN

The ANC caucus has accepted the written correction that President Cyril Ramaphosa made last week to his reply to a question in the National Assembly about his and his family's dealings with controversial security company Bosasa.

The correction — made in a letter to national assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete — divulged that Bosasa's (now known as African Global Operations) CEO Gavin Watson had donated R500,000 to Ramaphosa’s campaign to become president of the ANC.

Bosasa has been implicated in a number allegedly corrupt prison contracts.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said at a media briefing on Thursday that the caucus accepted Ramaphosa’s correction and applauded the “honesty and sincerity” with which he had handled the matter, and that that showed good leadership.

The caucus accepted that Ramaphosa had not “intentionally and wilfully” mislead the national assembly and therefore his actions were not unparliamentary.

He said no political party that had criticised the president for giving incorrect information had submitted a substantive motion that Ramaphosa had behaved in an unparliamentary manner by lying. The onus of proof of lying would rest with the proposer of the motion.

Mthembu said the allegation that Ramaphosa had lied was grandstanding by political parties, motivated by cheap populism and was not based on the facts.

He said Ramaphosa had made an honest mistake and had corrected it as he had done on a previous occasion when he gave an incorrect figure of the amount that the state had spent on the legal fees of former president Jacob Zuma.

While the correction was consistent with parliamentary practice there was a need, Mthembu said, to change the rules of parliament to provide for corrections within a specified time frame.

“Parliament needs to look at this. We need to strengthen our rules,” he said as it was possible for ministers and MPs to inadvertently present erroneous information in the national assembly.

In September, it emerged that senior ANC MP Vincent Smith had been paid ‘‘at least” R670,000 by Bosasa over the past three years and had accepted security installations at his home valued at R200,000.

Smith confirmed at the time that he had entered into an agreement for ‘‘a personal loan with Mr A Agrizzi [former Bosasa boss]”. The loan was for his daughter’s university fees and was processed in two separate payments: R220,000 in 2015 and R395,000 in 2016.

He denied that Bosasa had installed CCTV cameras at his home, adding that he was in “support of being held accountable” and would “participate in the parliamentary process led by the ethics committee”.

Smith has since stepped down from chairing any parliamentary committee until the ethics committee concludes looking into allegations against him.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za