Ramaphosa can’t take ‘the fifth’ on Phala Phala for much longer
While President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided on a stoic silence to deal with the growing questions about the big money find at his Phala Phala farm in 2020, his political opposition is turning it into a battering ram.
Opposition parties led by the EFF and IFP, with a clutch of smaller parties, decided on 17 August to table a motion of no confidence in Ramaphosa. In June, former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid a criminal complaint with the police against the President for not declaring the theft and it has since become a political potato because the latter has gone tortoise on his country.
The Presidency promised to make public the amount stolen from alleged game sale takings within days after the revelations, but has since clammed up as Ramaphosa claimed he had to wait until “due process” was completed by the Hawks investigation. But the National Assembly Speaker has agreed to a Section 89 constitutional inquiry into the President’s conduct and opposition parties have upped the ante.
The forum of opposition parties at Parliament said it would submit the names of four former judges to chair the inquiry. The official opposition, the DA, and the New Freedom Party did not attend the final of three meetings. The ANC, the Freedom Front Plus, the African Independent Congress, Good and Al Jama-ah did not attend the forum’s meetings.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far”
The Phala Phala case is not a typical scandal in that no theft of state funds is involved. But it is harming Ramaphosa’s image as a reformer, as Daily Maverick reported here. His continued silence is hurting his reputation and presidency. It also raises questions: why could a simple game transaction not be done electronically? Why were the takings not immediately banked? And if they were stolen in 2020, why was this not declared? Since then, intrigue has filled the vacuum as the quantum theft went from $4-million to R9-million, as reported last week by News24.
The opposition parties that met this week have decided on four judges for the inquiry: former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, and former judges Bernard Ngoepe and Yvonne Mokgoro. The inquiry’s panel will choose one, but not necessarily from this quad, because the names have not been agreed by either the ANC or the DA, which have a substantial majority in the House.
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The ongoing inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office has revealed how gruelling and revealing parliamentary probes can be, especially when done properly. DM