EFF tries to corner Ramaphosa on Marikana

Cape Town - The Economic Freedom Fighters tried to sneak a question on Marikana to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday in the National Council of Provinces but was cut short.

Ramaphosa was answering a question in the NCOP on measures to curb tax evasion when EFF MP Leigh-Ann Mathys raised former minister Susan Shabangu's testimony at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

"In the light of the Marikana Commission yesterday it appears that government is protecting the mining houses and we had our former minister of mineral resources saying that you lied to the commission by saying you were not acting in the interest..." she said, before NCOP chairperson Thandi Modise interrupted.

Modise told Mathys she was wasting her question time with "a long preamble which has nothing to do with the primary question posed".

"Redirect yourself to the supplementary question," she said.

Mathys resumed and asked Ramaphosa: "Are you protecting businesses?"

Modise then asked the deputy president, who was having his maiden question session in the NCOP, whether he was prepared to answer the question.

He said he was, and responded: "I think we are on record as government that tax evasion is not only a crime against the state it is also a crime against the people of our country, ordinary people.

"And it is a practice that we would like to discourage, to root out of our body politic, so that people do not evade their taxes and should anybody, be it an individual, a company or a corporation evade to pay their taxes they should ordinarily be pursued by the prosecution authorities.

"And we have a very efficient revenue service, Sars [SA Revenue Service], that is able to identify whether people or companies are evading taxes... and they should take appropriate action."

On Tuesday, Shabangu, under cross-examination on her exchanges with Ramaphosa in the run-up to the shooting of 34 miners at Marikana in the North West on 16 August 2012, said these did not influence her to change her view of the strike from a labour dispute to an act of criminality.

This contradicted e-mails between Ramaphosa, who was a non-executive director at Lonmin at the time, and Lonmin executives. In one missive Ramaphosa wrote that Shabangu "agrees that what we are going through is not a labour dispute but a criminal act" and she would "correct her characterisation" of the strike.

He added that she would say as much to Cabinet and get the police minister to "act in a more pointed way".

Speaker Baleka Mbete on Tuesday said she was considering the suspension of EFF MPs after they last week disrupted President Jacob Zuma's question session in the National Assembly.

In the most chaotic sitting of the post-apartheid legislature, they chanted that he should repay state funds spent on his Nkandla homestead, and forced Mbete to adjourn the house for the day.