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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Ramaphosa hits back at Holomisa, won’t testify at Mkhwebane’s impeachment hearing

The Presidency says Ramaphosa 'cannot be compelled to provide evidence' over the CR17 campaign.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has squashed the suggestion that he should testify at suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s impeachment hearings.

Proceedings into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office kicked off on Monday, with some people having already testified at the Section 194 Inquiry.

The suspended Public Protector is the first head of a Chapter 9 institution to face a parliamentary inquiry

On Tuesday, UDM president Bantu Holomisa proposed that Ramaphosa should come before Parliament and give evidence.

Holomisa said he was of the view that the president should testify as well over his ANC presidential campaign of 2017, which was investigated by Mkhwebane.

ALSO READ: ‘Public will hear from me and judge for themselves’ – Mkhwebane on inquiry into her fitness to hold office

“Would it be fair for this committee to invite the president, just to make sure that everything is above board, because we are not going to succeed if we are going to ask the Public Protector and grill her alone, based on the judgment, which may have been a mistake,” Holomisa said in Parliament.

Last year, the Constitutional Court (ConCourtdismissed Mkhwebane’s application for leave to appeal a high court ruling, which set aside her report into the CR17 campaign.

The apex court at the time had ruled that Mkhwebane changed the Executive Ethics Code to align with her findings in her CR17 report, among other things.

The Public Protector’s rescission application was also dismissed by the ConCourt in March 2022.

‘Baseless, misdirected’

Holomisa had also argued the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture had found the repeated “misuse of public funds” by the ANC and claimed “right now nobody knows whether there were state funds which could have gone via the CR17 campaign”.

“We want to know from the president, take us into confidence. The whole country,” the UDM MP said.

READ MORE: Timeline: How Mkhwebane’s impeachment will unfold

The Presidency on Wednesday responded to Holomisa’s suggestion, saying Ramaphosa “cannot be compelled to provide evidence proving or disproving these accusations” because the president did not make any allegations against Mkhwebane.

“Accordingly, President Ramaphosa rejects the suggestion by Bantu Holomisa that he should give evidence on his 2017 party political campaign during the section 194 inquiry,” Presidency spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said in a statement.

Magwenya labelled Holomisa’s claims that the CR17 campaign “may have” used public funds as “baseless, misdirected and vindictive”.

“It is an abuse of parliamentary processes and privilege. It has never been alleged that public funds were used by the CR17 campaign.

“The [ConCourt] judgement last year ruled that the Public Protector had no authority to investigate the CR17 campaign, given that this was not an organ of state and therefore not within the Public Protector’s remit,” he said.

“The section 194 inquiry into Advocate Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office is not a platform to make unsubstantiated allegations that fall outside of the scope of inquiry,” Magwenya added.

‘Rightfully summon’

Reacting to the Presidency’s statement on Wednesday afternoon, Holomisa said: “Irrespective of the [ConCourt] ruling, there is a symbiotic relationship between the Public Protector’s investigation of the CR17 campaign, and others such as Phala Phala farm, and the fact that the President has acted against her, which needs unpacking, because the chairperson of this committee insisted that it must not compromise the principle of fairness.”

Holomisa seemingly further suggested that Ramaphosa should be summoned instead to appear in Parliament.

“Advocate Mkhwebane’s suspension however calls on us to pause, for can a person who is being investigated, suspend the investigator.

READ MORE: Phala Phala theft: DA considering ‘legal options’ after Parliament declines request

“The President as the custodian of our national constitution should know better what should happen when there is a conflict of interest such as this. We will wait to hear what the ruling is in terms of the committee’s rights on whom they can rightfully summon to appear before them,” his statement reads.

Mkhwebane was suspended by Ramaphosa on 9 June, the day after she confirmed the investigation into the president regarding the $4 million farm theft, with the timing being questioned by Holomisa.

The investigation is currently ongoing.

Other investigations by the Public Protector are related to the controversial South African Air Force flight to Zimbabwe in 2020, on which senior ANC officials received a lift, allegations of judicial capture, and claims that Ramaphosa knew about the abuse of state funds during the ANC’s elective conferences.