Ramaphosa: Individuals, organisations using Phala Phala farm matter for political mileage
'I have responded, and will continue to respond, to all the questions that have been put to me by the relevant authorities with regards to the theft at my farm.'
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President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the National Assembly on Tuesday, to answer questions from Members of Parliament (MPs).
Disruptions, jabs and delays were the order of the day and proceedings took longer than anticipated. Ramaphosa appeared on a virtual platform and the leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) suggested that he was being protected from accounting to the nation.
Phala Phala farm scandal:
A pressing issue on the agenda was the Phala Phala farm saga, which came to light when former spy boss Arthur Fraser opened a case against Ramaphosa, alleging the president had concealed a theft that occurred at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo in February 2020.
On Tuesday, when questioned about the investigation, Ramaphosa said that there were individuals and organisations that sought political mileage on the farm matter and he would merely allow the law to take its own course.
“As I have indicated before – in written replies to Members of this House, in the debate on the Presidency Budget Vote, and in statements on various public platforms – I stand ready to cooperate with any investigations on this matter,” said Ramaphosa.
“I have responded, and will continue to respond, to all the questions that have been put to me by the relevant authorities with regards to the theft at my farm.”
“It is for me important that due process is followed, including the process that is going to unfold in Parliament.”
Members of the Parliament were, however, not satisfied with the reply and said the President had not answered the question. It was also said that the session could not end without a question being answered and a suggestion of another session to tackle this matter was brought forward.
EFF spokesperson Sinawo Tambo and president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) Vuyo Zungula accused the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) of delay tactics in the Phala Phala farm burglary probe.
EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu said if Ramaphosa is a truthful person, he can respond immediately, and he’ll respond the same way in the Section 89 committee. He also suggested that the follow-up session scheduled for 29 September be brought to a closer date and added that there is no law which says Ramaphosa can’t give an answer because he is going to appear on another platform.
To deal with the matter of illegal immigrants, Ramaphosa said Border Management Agency guards have been deployed in areas where illegal entry into the country has been reported. In an attempt to end this, he said there were ongoing joint operations by South African Police Service (Saps), South African Defence Force (SANDF) and Department of Employment and Labour and Department of Transport to deal with illegal migrants.
“As we deal with the challenge of illegal migration, we must remember that we are a democracy founded on the rule of law. Acts of lawlessness, intimidation or humiliation directed at foreign nationals, documented or undocumented, cannot be tolerated.”
“If migration is managed properly and occurs within the legal framework, foreign nationals can contribute positively to our society, bringing skills and resources to our economy and creating jobs for South Africans,” said Ramaphosa.
DA Leader John Steenhuisen said: “Today’s events in Parliament show that we’re facing Nkandla 2.0: President Ramaphosa is breaking Parliament to protect himself just like Zuma did. Years of promises about greater accountability are up in smoke as he dodges questions about Phala Phala that he can’t answer.”
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said Chief Whips of the various party would meet on Wednesday to further discuss the matter pertaining to unanswered questions.