President Cyril Ramaphosa says he will only act against several members of his executive implicated by the Zondo report into State capture if they are charged.
Furthermore, he dodged a question from Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen on how he justifies budget cuts in the police's detective services while the budget for protection services increases.
Ramaphosa also defended the independence of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), which exonerated him on Phala Phala.
While he attended the question session in the National Assembly virtually, his sparring with Steenhuisen, which has become a hallmark of these events, continued.
It was also clear elections are coming.
A theme through Steenhuisen's questions was the African National Congress (ANC) is destructive and does not have its priorities straight, while Ramaphosa's motif, as it was in his national address on Monday evening, was his administration is making progress in addressing the myriad crises the country is facing.
The Economic Freedom Fighters once again boycotted Ramaphosa's appearance in the House.
Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Narend Singh asked Ramaphosa how many commissions of inquiry he has established.
"Since taking office in 2018, I have established two commissions of inquiry in terms of Section 84[f] of the Constitution.
"The first of these was the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by the South African Revenue Service [SARS], which was established on 23 May 2018.
"The second was the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Impropriety regarding the Public Investment Corporation [PIC], established on 17 October 2018," Ramaphosa said.
In a follow-up question, Steenhuisen asked: "What is the point of these commissions if we don't implement its recommendations?"
He noted the Zondo Commission (which was appointed by Ramaphosa's predecessor, Jacob Zuma) made findings against several members of his executive.
Ministers and deputy ministers featuring in the pages of the Zondo report include Sport, Arts, and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Small Business Development Minister Dipuo Peters, who Ramaphosa elevated to this position after the Zondo Report came out, and former spy minister, now Deputy Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister David Mahlobo.
Referring to Ramaphosa's earlier statement that there would be nowhere to hide for the corrupt, Steenhuisen asked, "How can you honestly say there is nowhere for these people to hide if they are hiding in plain sight around your Cabinet table?"
Ramaphosa answered he said on several occasions the State capture commission's recommendations were being processed and presented an implementation plan on the recommendations to Parliament.
"And that a considerable amount of progress is being made in implementing various recommendations that were put forward," said Ramaphosa.
At the same time, I did say that our law enforcement agencies, in their various iterations, particularly the prosecutorial agencies, are in the process of processing whatever actions can and will be taken against anyone who is implicated in wrongdoing.
"Now, we work on a simple and straightforward principle that we would like the recommendations to be implemented.
"And implementation should also, as I said in my recent statement, result in those that have done any wrong or been involved in any wrongdoing, to be followed up [through] prosecution."
He added: "Once charges are preferred against anyone, we are then able to follow through."
Ramaphosa said in the end, little attention was being paid to "the progress that is being made."
"Progress is being made," he claimed.
"And of course, progress in all these matters does, yes, tend to take its time, as it does in many other environments.
"But progress is being made because we will ensure that justice is, in fact, implemented, and we will ensure that criminality is followed up."
Ramaphosa said it was an important principle for him that law enforcement agencies acted without fear, favour, or prejudice, and he had found if they were given the space, this was how they acted.
ANC MP Phumulo Masualle asked Ramaphosa, "What methods has he found should be implemented to ensure that the mandate of the SARB is expanded to include economic development and job creation through managing interest rate hikes."
Ramaphosa said the SA Reserve Bank's mandate would not be changed.
He added in terms of the Constitution: "The South African Reserve Bank, in pursuit of its primary object, must perform its functions independently and without fear, favour or prejudice, but there must be regular consultation between the bank and the Cabinet minister responsible for national financial matters."
In a follow-up question, Steenhuisen, who took all the DA's questions, said it should be a "matter of grave concern" to Ramaphosa that the SA Reserve Bank "has already been compromised."
In a vague statement released in August, the SA Reserve Bank announced Ramaphosa's Ntaba Nyoni Estate, which owns the Phala Phala game farm, was not "legally entitled" to the US$580 000 it received from Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa for 20 buffalo and because the transaction was not "perfected," there was no legal obligation on Ramaphosa or Ntaba Nyoni to have declared the foreign currency under exchange control regulations.
This is in reference to the foreign currency kept in a couch in Phala Phala, from where it was stolen in February 2020, which led to former spy boss Arthur Fraser's charges against Ramaphosa.
Opposition leaders were none too pleased with this outcome.
On Thursday, Steenhuisen said this was "clearly an unfair exoneration" that "stained" the SA Reserve Bank's independence.
He asked: "Has your exoneration on the Phala Phala matter not now opened up a loophole for money launderers, who can now stuff millions of dollars and pounds into couches as long as they never complete their transactions?
"And doesn't this undermine the efforts of your government to get us of the [money laundering] grey list?"
Ramaphosa responded the SA Reserve Bank's independence was set out in the Constitution.
"And the Reserve Bank has always acted independently, without favour, without prejudice, and it is one of those central banks that are highly respected in the world. And we need to continue to uphold the independence of the central bank."
As a follow-up to a question about what measures Ramaphosa is implementing to stop violent crimes against women and children, Steenhuisen said these crimes continued to rise, and the reason was there were not enough detectives.
"We've lost 8 000 detectives since you became president."
He asked: "How can you justify budget cuts to detectives when you're increasing the budget for VIP Protection Services for yourself and your Cabinet?"
Ramaphosa said he would "regard" what Steenhuisen said as a suggestion to appoint more detectives.
"As we increase the number of police officers, and increasing them by the thousands, I would like to insert a positive message which he did not articulate, it would have liked to hear him say: 'Mr president, make sure that those police officers that we're training and bringing into the police service, some of them are trained as good detectives.' Because that's precisely what we're focusing our attention on," he said.
"So, I'd like to hear some really good suggestions from him.
"So, I'm reading that as a good suggestion and, honourable Speaker, I think it is best to leave it there rather than to listen to his diatribe and then his moaning because we are dealing with a serious matter, a serious matter that requires all of society's involvement.
"A serious matter that requires that we should come forward with positive suggestions."
Ramaphosa claimed the level of investigations increased.
He did not say a word about the protection services.