Motsoaledi defends Ramaphosa over Lekota's 'sellout' allegations

13 February 2019 - 18:37 By THABO MOKONE
Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Image: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla

Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has defended President Cyril Ramaphosa against claims that he "sold out" anti-apartheid student activists in the 1970s.

This was after Cope leader Mosioua Lekota made the startling allegation in parliament during the Sona debate on Wednesday.

Lekota claimed that Ramaphosa "condemned" him and other student activists to the apartheid special branch in 1974, when Ramaphosa told the apartheid regime in a letter that they had "put communist ideas in his head".

But Motsoaledi revealed that they had first asked Lekota about these allegations as far back as 1983, when they were students at the then University of Natal.

Motsoaledi said there were rumours at the time that anti-apartheid activists who had been arrested for the "Viva Frelimo" rally - among them Lekota and Ramaphosa - had been sold out to apartheid's special branch.

"On June 16 1983, that evening, we called you [Lekota]. We sat together with you and we called senior student activists and we said, 'Please clarify us on this matter of comrades who sold out during the Frelimo rally and clear or confirm the name, specifically of Ben Langa.'

"We asked you and the answer you gave us was that there's no such thing. These are smear campaigns by the boers who want to divide us - that's what you told us. At that time there was no reason for you whatsoever to protect one Cyril Ramaphosa. There was no reason you could have told us about the way he sold out.

"Now, if the boers told you at that time that Ramaphosa sent them a letter and sold out, why didn't you disclose [this] to us at the time?" Motsoaledi asked as Lekota sat stony-faced at his parliamentary bench.

"In 1991, when this President Cyril Ramaphosa was standing as the secretary-general of the ANC, you are one of the people who came to mobilise us to vote for him. Why did you want the ANC to vote for a sellout? The young people led by Peter Mokaba wanted Alfred Nzo.

"We were of the UDF era and we were listening to you because you were our very powerful publicity secretary. You gave us direction that we must vote for Ramaphosa. Why the sellout who sold you [out] so much? You wanted him to be a leader of a liberation movement. Perhaps you will give us answers, I don't know," said Motsoaledi.

The EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi entered the fray after raising a point of order.

"Honourable Lekota has a sworn statement ... not fairytales. He's got a statement under oath of the president selling out," said Ndlozi.

"It does not matter - our comrades have died because of such sworn statements."

Lekota attempted to respond, but speaker Baleka Mbete ruled that he must file a written submission since he had already spoken on the matter in his earlier slot during the debate.