Opposition parties are calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to be held accountable for the Phala Phala farm theft scandal.
MPs from different parties – including Democratic Alliance (DA), the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African Transformational Movement (ATM) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), among others – convened a meeting on Wednesday to discuss some issues – including the controversial February 2020 theft that took place at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.
All parties agreed that the president should be held accountable “as a matter of urgency” and expressed discontent over National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s handling over the matter.
“The opposition parties expressed misgivings and discontent with the manner in which the speaker of parliament has thus far handled the demands of political parties to hold the president accountable,” the opposition said in a statement.
Three weeks ago, Mapisa-Nqakula rejected DA’s request for an ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations against Ramaphosa, with the party’s leader John Steenhuisen criticising the Speaker for “shielding the executive, and the president himself, from the accountability”.
Steenhuisen at the time said the DA would consider its legal options.
News24 has since reported that the Speaker has asked for more time to consider the ATM’s request for a Section 89 inquiry to be established.
“The previous correspondence on the subject refers. I can inform you that the matter of your motion, submitted in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution, continues to receive the attention of the speaker. Regrettably, while a decision on the matter was initially expected by Tuesday, 2 August 2022, there has been a delay,” Parliament’s secretary, Masibulele Xaso, wrote to ATM President Vuyolwethu Zungula.
Mapisa-Nqakula previously rejected the ATM’s initial request for a Section 89 inquiry after considering the “substantive issues raised” on the matter.
The Speaker said the party’s request inquiry was not accompanied by substantive motions as required by parliament’s rules. The ATM, however, resubmitted its motion.
Public Protector questions
Meanwhile, the opposition also criticised the concealment of Ramaphosa’s responses to Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka regarding the farm theft.
However, it was revealed that Public Protector’s office would not disclose Ramaphosa’s answers to the public as it was of the view that the information should be kept confidential, in order to avoid compromising the ongoing investigation.
Public Protector’s office is investigating whether Ramaphosa violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Code by not reporting the 2020 theft to the police.
“The Public Protector as a matter of urgency, and as required by law, should release the report on the Phala Phala investigations,” the parties said.
The parties further said Parliament must be physically convened to deal with all parliamentary issues and further indicated that they would request a follow-up meeting with the Speaker “to discuss all accountability issues, including the usage of a secret ballot for motions of no confidence”.
“Opposition parties will initiate and participate in broader consultations with civil society organisations, non-profit organisations, trade unions and religious bodies to consolidate a common approach and response to holding the executive and the president accountable.”
They are set to hold another meeting next Wednesday “to finalise a common approach on the establishment of a Section 89 Committee, Parliamentary ad hoc committees and an approach to a motion of no confidence in the president”.