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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Independent panel finds Ramaphosa has a case to answer on Phala Phala

The panel has found that Ramaphosa exposed himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business. of the Constitution

The independent panel appointed by National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has found that there is “prima facie” evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have violated sections 96(2)(a) of the constitution and 34(1) of PRECCA, with the aim of keeping the investigation of the burglary private.

The panel, led by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, was tasked with investigating whether the president committed an impeachable offence related to the burglary at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo in February 2020.

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Justice Ngcobo handed the report to Mapisa-Nqakula during a ceremony in Parliament, Cape Town, on Wednesday morning, and published it on Wednesday evening.

In the report, the panel said: “In light of all the information placed before the Panel, we conclude that this information discloses, prima facie, that the President may have committed:

  • A serious violation of sections 96(2)(a).
  • A serious violation of section 34(1) of PRECCA.
  • A serious misconduct in that the President violated section 96(2)(b) by acting ina way that is inconsistent with his office.
  • A serious misconduct in that the President violated section 96(2)(b) by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business. of the Constitution

According to the panel, there was a “deliberate intention” not to investigate the commission of the crimes committed at Phala Phala openly, and this intention was confirmed by the request to the Namibian Police to “handle the matter with discretion”.

“The President abused his position as Head of State to have the matter investigated and seeking the assistance of the Namibian President to apprehend a suspect,” reads the report.

The panel also found that there was more foreign currency concealed in the sofa than the amount reflected in the acknowledgement of receipt.

ALSO READ: Phala Phala: Report handed over as Ramaphosa blames protection unit head

“This raises the source of the additional currency,” it said.

The panel found that Ramaphosa violated section 34(1) read with section 34(2) of PRECCA by not reporting the burglary to the police.

“On the information presented to us, the housebreaking and theft of US$580,000 was not reported to a police official in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation as required or was it reported to any SAPS station as no case was opened or a docket registered for this offence.”

Read the full report here

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Ramaphosa maintains his innocence

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa noted the report and said the conclusions of the panel “require careful reading and appropriate consideration in the interest of the stability of government and that of the country”.  

He, however, denied any wrongdoing on his side.

“I have endeavoured, throughout my tenure as President, not only to abide by my oath but to set an example of respect for the Constitution, for its institutions, for due process and the law. I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me,” he said.

Ramaphosa was “giving consideration” to the report and would make an announcement in due course.

ALSO READ: Phala Phala: ANC MPs ‘seeking guidance’ ahead of debate, while investigator guns for Arthur Fraser

What’s next?

The panel’s recommendations will now be put to a vote in the National Assembly next Tuesday.

If a majority vote is achieved, a Section 89 impeachment committee will be established to inquire into the president’s fitness for office.

If the impeachment committee recommends Ramaphosa’s removal, this could ultimately lead to Ramaphosa’s impeachment.

A majority of 201 votes would be needed when the voting takes place.

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