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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

DA hauls Ramaphosa to court for ‘abusing office’ in national address

Opposition parties have lashed out at Ramaphosa over his address to the nation on Sunday night.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is hauling President Cyril Ramaphosa before the Electoral Court, accusing him of abusing his office for political gain following his “national address” via the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The president has come under criticism from political parties for allegedly using the SABC to campaign for the African National Congress (ANC) in a last pitch to voters before the polls on 29 May.

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In his address, Ramaphosa highlighted the “achievements” of the sixth administration, including tackling corruption, the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling corruption and gender-based violence and  reducing load shedding, among other issues.

Ramaphosa also spoke about the signing into law of the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI).

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Violating electoral code

However, DA leader John Steenhuisen is aggrieved and filed an application in the Electoral Court, accusing Ramaphosa of violating the Electoral Code.

“Among other provisions, the Code as contained in the Electoral Act states expressly that ‘no person may abuse a position of power, privilege or influence, including parental, patriarchal, traditional or employment authority, to influence the conduct or outcome of an election‘,” Steenhuisen said.

Steenhuisen claims Ramaphosa violated the Electoral Code of Conduct when he abused the highest office in the land for “flagrant electioneering.”

“Ramaphosa’s manipulation was cynical, calculated and designed to influence the outcome of the election by providing the ANC with unearned airtime not made available to any other party contesting the election.”

“Not for the first time, Ramaphosa has chosen his corrupt political party over South Africa. As the President, he should have known better and must be held to account. This type of abuse cannot be allowed by anyone,” Steenhuisen said.

Ramaphosa panicked

According to Steenhuisen, Ramaphosa’s “desecration” of the office of President confirms that he is “panicked,”

 “Because he has finally realised that the people are about to hold the ANC to account for the corruption, misrule and hardship they have inflicted upon the people of South Africa.

“The DA therefore calls on voters to turn out to the polling booths in their millions today and on Wednesday, to help us bring an end to the ANC’s impunity and abuse of our democracy for narrow personal and political gain,” Steenhuisen said.

Steenhuisen said “through his violation of the Electoral Act, Ramaphosa has clearly signalled that the ANC is prepared to undermine our constitutional democracy to try and cling to power.”

“This should serve as an urgent warning to all of our democratic institutions, including the IEC. If Ramaphosa is willing to abuse his office for narrow political gain even before the ANC has lost its majority, what else will he be willing to do to subvert the will of the people and cling to power after voters take away the ANC’s majority on Wednesday?”

ALSO READ: WATCH: Ramaphosa makes last pitch to voters ahead of 2024 elections

Presidency reaction

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya told The Citizen that the criticism of the president is unfounded.

“The President’s address on Sunday was a stately account of the work done during the 6th administration. The President was, therefore, being accountable to the nation as we ended the term of the 6th administration.

“Secondly, he was taking the responsibility of assuring South Africans that these elections are going to be free and fair and, more importantly, safe. That responsibility can only be discharged by a sitting head of state.

“In his address, the President did not mention the governing party, nor did he criticise other political parties. He commended all parties for the peaceful manner in which they have campaigned and thanked all parliamentarians for the work they’ve done over the concluding term,” Magwenya said. 

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