Cape Town – Opposition parties are calling on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to take action against President Cyril Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala saga.
The scandal involves the theft of foreign currency from Ramaphosa’s farm in Limpopo in 2020.
A panel led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo found that the president may have a case to answer. However, the ANC used its majority in Parliament to vote against the adoption of the report and the establishment of an ad-hoc committee to investigate the matter.
The Constitutional Court declined to hear Ramaphosa’s review application challenging the report and referred it to a lower court.
Ramaphosa has since been advised there is no basis to continue with the legal challenge in a high court.
“The president has been advised – which advice he has accepted – that the panel report and all issues associated with it have become moot and they are of no practical and legal consequence because on 13 December 2022 the National Assembly decided to reject the motion to refer the panel report to an impeachment committee. While that decision remains valid, the Section 89 panel report carries no weight in law.
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“The President has thus been advised not to institute proceedings before the High Court for review and setting aside of the panel report at this stage. President Ramaphosa reserves his right to bring such proceeding in due course, should the circumstances change.
“The President maintains his position set out in his founding affidavit before the Constitutional Court that the panel report is reviewable in law on several grounds including the misconception of its mandate, the grave errors of law and the unfounded conclusions of fact,” presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said on Monday while briefing the media on Monday.
However, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) president, Bantu Holomisa, believes that the legal challenge had no merit and accuses Ramaphosa of using it to mislead Parliament and pave the way for his re-election as ANC president.
“It (legal challenge) was also used to open the way for Ramaphosa to stand for re-election as ANC president at Nasrec. In short it was a blatant abuse of the court process to achieve ulterior motives.
The UDM welcomes the announcement made on behalf of President Ramaphosa that he will no longer be challenging the report of the Panel on #PhalaPhalaFarmGate.
We call on Adv Batohi to charge him in terms of PRECCA, by 1 June 2023, as the President has a case to answer. pic.twitter.com/wMgiNDLYFo
— Bantu Holomisa (@BantuHolomisa) May 22, 2023
“The report now stands as a valid document with a finding by independent and very senior legal experts that the president has a case to answer for the serious criminal offence of breaching Section 34 of Precca [Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act],” Holomisa said on Monday.
He added: “Given the seriousness of the matter and the NDPP’s failure to act thus far, she is given until 1 June 2023 to charge Mr Ramaphosa failing which the appropriate court will be approached on an urgent basis to compel her to do so.
“Given recent conduct on the part of the NPA in giving public support to Mr Ramaphosa as an accused person in criminal proceedings and its general record of lack of independence, the UDM will be consulting with its legal team even before the deadline.”
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also called for a parliamentary inquiry to investigate Ramaphosa’s conduct.
“As it stands therefore, the report of the independent panel still stands, and it will remain an albatross around the president’s neck until Parliament exercises its constitutional powers by establishing the impeachment committee to hold Ramaphosa accountable,” the EFF said.
EFF Statement On Ramaphosa’s Decision Not To Challenge The Phala Phala Report Anymore pic.twitter.com/Mgjk6r3iP1
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) May 23, 2023
The party said it would write to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, asking her to reconsider the decision not to establish the impeachment committee.
“Failure by the Speaker to reconsider the need to table the report for a decision by Parliament against would constitute a serious abdication of duty by Parliament, and this decision would be reviewable in court,” it said.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM) said Ramaphosa had misled the ANC.
“Mr Ramaphosa misled his party so it doesn’t vote to have a parliamentary inquiry, citing taking the report on review. Now that they voted against the report, he is no longer challenging it. A person who doesn’t want to be held accountable has no place being a president of a country,” ATM Vuyo Zungula tweeted.
Mr Ramaphosa misled his party so it doesn’t vote to have a Parliamentary inquiry,citing taking the report on review. Now that they voted against the report,he is no longer challenging it. A person who doesn’t want to be held accountable has no place being a President of a country
— Vuyo Zungula MP 🇿🇦 (@ZungulaVuyo) May 22, 2023
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Compiled by Betha Madhomu