LIVE BLOG: Ramaphosa: Mkhize matter won't be swept under the carpet

President Cyril Ramaphosa is holding a press briefing on Thursday after his budget vote response in Parliament.

The press briefing has begun and the media are posing their questions.

The media briefing has wrapped up.

The president said he was not aware of his apparent neglect of the Public Protector and "it was not something I would like to see".

Ramaphosa said he was looking at the size of Cabinet and its effectiveness. 
"But right now there is no plan to migrate to a smaller Cabinet at the moment."

With regards to the issue of load shedding, the president said it was not due to mismanagement, but rather the machinery and equipment that was in place.

"Rest assured that this matter is going to be handled in a way that will give credence to our principal of good governance and good leadership, and it will happen."

On whether Mkhize should take a leave of absence or be suspended, the president said these were matters that had to be looked at, and he would like people to trust that he was handling it to finality. "It is concerning and disturbing."

Ramaphosa acknowledged impatience over the matter but said he wanted to be careful and wait for the full process to unfold.

“I’ve not outsourced morality to the law enforcement agencies – they do their work, they execute the work that needs to be done.”

“A number of things keep surfacing, they’re surfacing about his son and monies that have been paid and I’d like to enable the investigation to proceed.”

“This matter is on my desk. This matter is not going to be swept under the carpet. This matter is going to be dealt with. And as it is now, I am dealing with the matter. And what is good, as I said yesterday, is that the minister is cooperating. He is cooperating fully.”

The president said he did not believe that the questions around alleged wrongdoing by the Health Minister would risk the country's vaccination process.

The president said that returning troubled SOEs to health was a key priority.

He added that this anti-corruption message was resonating with the people ahead of the local government elections.

The president said all those who had eyes in government would know that processes were under way to deal with corruption, but added that it would take time as the corrupt had embedded themselves in institutions. 

"The message is getting through on corruption, both in government and the governing party. It has been a very testing period. Those who have benefitted from corruption were duty bound to resist. But the message is getting through."

With regards to SA troops in Mozambique, the president said these matters were of a security nature, and once they happened, only then would we all know about it.

Returning to the issue of land, Ramaphosa says we should listen to the lived experiences of people on the ground rather than listen to 'our own political slogans'. 

On the issue of firearm licences and the fact that the criteria of self-defence as a reason to be allowed to own a firearm could be done away with, Ramaphosa said it needed to be tested by the courts.

"We need to put this country on a firmer footing in dealing with corruption and attracting investment."

"On the continent, we are the biggest FDI attractor."

On the skills list, Ramaphosa said this was a matter that was easily resolvable and we needed to move quicker.

The president said he believed the country remained attractive to investors, with the likes of Amazon and automakers still showing an interest in South Africa.

"As a government, we need to enable people to play out their aspirations and not be held back."

After meeting with farmers, he said the idea of using a blanket approach may impede the entrepreneurial aspect of people.

He said the ANC's approach has always focused on tenure.

On the question of the Section 25 process dealing with land restitution, Ramaphosa said government was consulting widely with political parties.

Ramaphosa and Mabuza are set to take questions from journalists from 4pm.

“We cannot yet say that we have extinguished the flames of this pandemic – but we will. What we can say is that we are now seeing some of the green shoots of recovey. We are now seeing signs that the focus which this administration has placed on economic reform, which began before the pandemic, is steadily but surely paying off.”

Ramaphosa said it was now important to make sure the green shoots of recovery lead to a sustained acceleration in economic growth.

He cited a string of indicators that show signs of a rebound in the economy, which was already in trouble before being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Replying to the debate on the Presidency’s budget in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon, the president said his government’s focus on economic reforms was beginning to pay off, with the economy showing signs of recovery.

However, Eyewitness News columnist Judith February says that if we are to believe Ramaphosa’s rhetoric about dealing decisively with corruption, then he will have to do what good leaders are asked to do and that is to make difficult decisions, even if it involves a close ally and a capable Cabinet minister.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating allegations involving two of Mkhize’s close associates and a R150 million, irregular contract between the company and the Department of Health.

The DA and the EFF accused him of failing to show leadership and breaking promises.

But after his address, Ramaphosa came under fire from the opposition in Parliament.

On Wednesday afternoon Ramaphosa presented the Presidency’s budget vote for 2021/22, which underscored national priorities and the key programmes for the Presidency as the apex of government.

Welcome to the Eyewitness News blog on the briefing being held by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza.