Citizen Reporter
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3 minute read
5 Aug 2022
8:59 pm

Phala Phala farm: Parliament refers ATM’s Section 89 motion to independent panel

Citizen Reporter

The panel referral, however, does not constitute a parliamentary impeachment process.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Presidency Budget Vote in Cape Town. Picture: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

An independent panel will decide whether President Cyril Ramaphosa will be subject to a process that may lead to his removal from office over the Phala Phala farm theft scandal.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accepted a request by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) for a Section 89 inquiry to be established against Ramaphosa.

“Now that the motion complied with the Rule, the other steps, as per the rules, will follow, including the appointment of the independent panel,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in a letter sent to ATM president Vuyo Zungula on Friday.

ALSO READ: Opposition parties unhappy with parliament’s handling of Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm theft

The ATM had submitted its motion in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution and Rule 129A-Q of the National Assembly Rules

Section 89 of the Constitution provides for the National Assembly to remove a president of the Republic from office on the grounds of either, serious violation of the Constitution or the law, serious misconduct or an inability to perform the functions of office, while Rule 129A-Q governs the process of the removal of the president. 

The party’s motion was based on allegations that Ramaphosa breached the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by not reporting the February 2020 theft at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

Panel

In statement, Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo explained that Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula must now appoint a panel, which will decide whether Ramaphosa has a case to answer on the allegations of money laundering, among others, related to the February 2020 theft at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. 

This will only happen after the Speaker gives political parties represented in the National Assembly “a reasonable opportunity to put forward nominees, and also after she has given due consideration to all persons nominated”. 

READ MORE: Phala Phala farm theft: Ipid to investigate police officers allegedly involved in ‘cover-up’

“The function of the independent panel is to conduct a preliminary assessment of the proposed motion and, in so doing, must, in terms of Rule 129G, make a recommendation to the Speaker within 30 days, whether sufficient evidence exists to show the president committed any of the violations specified in the motion,” Mothapo said. 

He highlighted that the panel referral, however, did not constitute a parliamentary impeachment process.

“An assessment of the supplied evidence by legal and constitutional experts will determine if, in terms of the Constitution, it is adequate to warrant a further process,” Mothapo said.

The panel must consist of three fit and proper, competent and experienced South Africans, who may include a judge.

Previous motions

On 13 June, Mapisa-Nqakula rejected the ATM’s initial request for a Section 89 inquiry having considering the “substantive issues raised” on the motion.

The Speaker at the time said the party’s request was not accompanied by substantive motions as required by Parliament’s rules.

The ATM then resubmitted the motion on 17 June, but was declined yet again before an amended version of the motion was subsequently sent to the Speaker on 18 July. 

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wants an ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations against Ramaphosa.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa farm theft: DA urges Parliament to summon Cele over cover-up allegations

After this was declined by Mapisa-Nqakula, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party would consider its legal options.

The DA has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States (US), the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to also investigate the Phala Phala theft.

The Public Protector’s office is already investigating whether Ramaphosa violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Code by not reporting the theft to the police.