(Bloomberg) -- A parliamentary committee will request President Cyril Ramaphosa to explain recorded comments in which he allegedly said the ruling party misused taxpayer money for its campaigning.

‘’We will write to the president and give him seven to 10 working days to explain those comments and what knowledge he has of the misuse of state funds” Mkhuleko Hlengwa, chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts told lawmakers. “Based on that response, the committee will then decide on its way forward, including inviting him to appear and answer questions.”

The decision comes just four days after the ruling African National Congress placed lawmaker Mervyn Dirks on cautionary suspension and stripped him of his parliamentary privileges and powers, after he called for the legislature to investigate the president’s alleged transgression. Hlengwa is a member of the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party. 

Dirks’s accusations coincide with the start of campaigning for the ANC leadership ahead of a conference in December. A clash between Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Ramaphosa over the judiciary earlier this month was also interpreted by local media as part of a bid to tarnish Ramaphosa’s image in the run-up to the vote.

READ: Row Between South African President, Minister Heads for Showdown

“This ANC has taken disciplinary steps against its lawmakers in the past, but none have ever been placed on cautionary suspension,” Melanie Verwoerd, an independent political analyst and former ANC lawmaker, said by phone from Cape Town. “The anti-Ramaphosa faction has been very quiet recently and these incidents make me think that they are trying a new strategy to see how it will work and what support they will get from within and outside the party.”

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.