Minister on "plot against President

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03 May 2001
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


3 May 2001

Chairperson: Mr M George

The Chairperson stated that the aim of the Minister addressing the committee is to shed light on the allegations that the Minister had exceeded his mandate in carrying out an investigation on the alleged plot against President Thabo Mbeki.

Briefing by Minister Steve Tswete
Minister Tswete stated that he is currently engaged in an investigation of the allegation that President Mbeki was involved in the assassination of ANC leader Chris Hani. He is also investigating if there is a conspiracy against President Thabo Mbeki at present. Whether or not he has gone beyond his mandate in carrying out these investigations is to be decided at the meeting. The Minister thus welcomed questions from committee members relating to the aforesaid issue. The question and answer sessions were divided in two.

Comments and Questions by committee members:
Mr M Booi (ANC) stated that the ANC believes that the Minister had not abused his power. The ANC believes that allegations have been made against President Thabo Mbeki and that the Minister must investigate such allegations to the full extent of his mandate.

Adv A Gaum (NNP) asked if the investigations against Cyril Ramaphosa, Mathew Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale are ongoing. He asked whether criminal charges have been laid against them and if so, what charges were laid. Adv Gaum also asked if the President had known of the Minister's intention to investigate the three men and if Mr Mbeki had given his approval for the investigation. He referred to a statement made the previous day by presidential spokesperson, Mr Smuts Ngonyama, that the announcement by the Minister of the alleged conspirator's names had been totally inappropriate.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked the Minister whether he believes that he has exceeded his mandate in view of what has been said thus far. Is the investigation justified or is it merely an internal squabble within the ANC?

Ms A Van Wyk (UDM) asked where had the decision to undertake the investigation originated. Was it undertaken when the ANC realised that they were unable to investigate the allegations themselves?

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) stated that under normal circumstances where the SAPS are investigating a person, the names of such individuals are never released. But in this instance the names of the alleged plotters were released prior to an investigation even being undertaken.

Minister's response:
Minister Steve Tswete stated that if an allegation has been made against the president and if there are allegations of individuals plotting against him as well, the public is rightly entitled to be informed of it. He added that it is also his duty to investigate the truth of both allegations. It is not the first time that he has been asked to undertake investigations regarding political party leaders. Not too long ago he was asked by the DP to investigate the possibility that the life of their leader, Tony Leon, was in danger. The matter had consequently been investigated.

The Minister refuted the allegations that the ANC was using state funds to settle internal disputes within its party. He was adamant that the ANC was fully capable of solving its own problems. The matter at hand involves the leader of state and as such the Ministry is investigating it. He said that it is nonsensical to allege that the decision to investigate was taken by the national executive of the ANC.

He added that the media's assertion that he acted on the prompting of the President was totally untrue. The SAPS is not the personal watchdog of the ANC and the decision to prosecute individuals does not lie with the ANC national executive. The SAPS is there to serve the state as a whole.

Comments and Questions by committee members:
Mr T Goniwe (ANC) stated that it was unfortunate that MPs themselves had made allegations that state funds had been spent to settle party disputes. He asked that if these MPs have information at their disposal to substantiate these allegations then they should forward it to the committee as a whole. Mr Goniwe made mention that Adv Gaum had earlier in the day gone on air to feed these allegations on SA-Fm radio. He wanted it to be placed on record that he was disappointed in the way the opposition had handled the issue. In light of this, Mr Goniwe asked the Minister to speed up his investigation so as to get closure on the matter.

Adv P Swart (DP) asked if it was correct that the investigation was initially undertaken because of the allegations that the president was involved in the killing of Chris Hani. He also asked what had led to the investigation of the alleged plot of the three accused. How do these two issues tie in with one another?

Adv Swart asked if the statement by Deputy President Zuma that he was not available to be elected as leader of the ANC had anything to do with the plot against President Mbeki. Is he linked to the plot? He pointed out that the question as to whether criminal charges had been laid against the alleged three conspirators, remained unanswered.

The Chair reacted that the aim of the meeting is to decide if the Minister had gone beyond his mandate or not. He emphasised that the investigation and its progress is the job of the SAPS.

Adv Gaum asked what were the specific charges laid against the three accused. He also asked whether the Minister had consulted with the President prior to approaching the three accused. He noted that the Minister had recently made a statement in an Afrikaans newspaper that the English media is engaged in a campaign against the President. He asked if any of the English media is being investigated and if so, what charges have been laid. He added that Mr Smuts Ngonyama had stated that the naming of the three accused names was inappropriate. Adv Gaum asked if the Minister agrees with Mr Nguyama's sentiments.

The Chair interjected that the line of questioning was veering away from the issue.

Ms A Van Wyk (UDM) stated that the minority parties are not loyal to the ANC but rather to the state. She asked whether there is enough evidence to justify the investigations.
She pointed out that the Minister had himself in the past stated that names should not be mentioned in investigations (related to the arms deal allegations). Why were the names of the alleged accused named in this instance?

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked that the Minister conclude his investigations as soon as possible, punish those that are guilty and exonerate those that are innocent.

Minister's response:
The Minister reiterated what he had previously stated about the investigations. He said that the issue is not whether he agrees with Mr Ngonyama or not but rather whether he had acted beyond his mandate. Mr Tswete stated that the media is free to print whatever they like and to allege that they are to be investigated is absurd. The Minister stressed that he had not consulted with President on any of the issues and that it would have been inappropriate for him to do so.

The opposition MPs complained that he had not answered their questions.

In conclusion, the Chair stated that it is clear from what has transpired in the meeting that the Minister had not gone beyond his mandate.

Ms Van Wyk disagreed. She felt that the committee had not come to a decision about whether the Minister had abused his power or not. She personally felt that the naming of the three accused without substantiation of the allegations against them, was an abuse of power by the Minister.


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