South Africa

PRESIDENT’S APPLICATION DISMISSED

EFF and DA call for ad hoc committee to probe Phala Phala saga after ConCourt rules against Ramaphosa

EFF and DA call for ad hoc committee to probe Phala Phala saga after ConCourt rules against Ramaphosa
Illustrative image | Sources: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | pngtree | flyclipart

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the judgment ‘is not a blow to the President’ and Ramaphosa’s legal team would weigh its options.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday dismissed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid to seek direct access to challenge the findings of the bruising Section 89 Independent Panel report into the Phala Phala scandal.  

The highest court in the land refused to grant the President direct access to the Constitutional Court to challenge the report’s findings against him, concluding that “no case has been made out for exclusive jurisdiction or direct access and the main application must be dismissed. Consequently, the application to intervene falls to be dismissed.”

The court decided not to award costs.

Crucially, the matter can still be taken to a lower court, meaning the President will have to approach the high court to challenge the report findings.

In briefing the media on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Presidency, Vincent Magwenya, explained that the Constitutional Court judgment dealt with, “what [he] would call, a procedural matter with respect to the President seeking direct access to the Constitutional Court. The judgment does not pronounce on the merits of the case.”

The judgment, Magwenya maintained, “is not a blow to the President”. He said the President’s legal team would weigh its options.

Ramaphosa had, in December last year, petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare the Section 89 Phala Phala report as unlawful and to set it aside, Daily Maverick’s Queenin Masuabi reported.

Read more in Daily Maverick:The Fight Is On: Ramaphosa intends to challenge the Ngcobo Panel Report

In the second part of his affidavit, the President had applied for leave for the courts to allow him to bring the matter directly to the Constitutional Court in the interests of justice in terms of section 167(6)(a) of the Constitution and Rule 18 of the rules of this court.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

This came after an independent panel of experts — helmed by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, and including Judge Thokozile Masipa and advocate Mahlape Sello was appointed by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula last September, to determine whether Ramaphosa had a case to answer over the theft of foreign currency at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Unpacking the Cyril Ramaphosa home robbery story, and why you should care

The President has found himself in the hot seat since the findings of the Section 89 Independent Panel report were made public in November last year. The three-person panel found that there was prima facie evidence that Ramaphosa may have violated the Constitution and abused his authority.

The panel found that Ramaphosa had an impeachment case to answer over violations of the Constitution for exposing himself to a conflict of interest, doing outside paid work and contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 12 of 2004, Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten reported.

Following the scathing Section 89 report findings, it was rumoured that Ramaphosa was contemplating resigning, but backpedalled after discussions with his legal team and close allies. Magwenya later confirmed the President had “no intention of resigning”, despite the seriousness of the allegations levelled against him.

In December, the National Assembly — with ANC MPs leading the charge — voted to reject the adoption of the impeachment inquiry aimed at holding Ramaphosa accountable for allegedly concealing the crime committed at his game farm. This cleared the way for Ramaphosa to be re-elected as president of the ANC at the party’s elective conference in December 2022.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa takes strong anti-corruption stance, slams attempts to derail party’s unity project” 

Reacting to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Wednesday, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the dismissal of Ramaphosa’s application by the court confirmed that the details of the report should be investigated by the National Assembly in the form of an ad hoc committee. The party has been pushing for an ad hoc committee to probe the Phala Phala saga for months.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Phala Phala scandal — opposition parties unite to pile pressure on Ramaphosa in Parliament 

“An ad hoc committee is the route that Parliament should have followed when this scandal first broke… It is highly irresponsible conduct by the President to bat the Phala Phala scandal between Parliament and the courts, all in an attempt to evade difficult questions and full transparency and accountability. 

“Ramaphosa had launched this court application to set aside the Section 89 report in a desperate attempt to save his political skin. Now that this attempt has been unanimously dismissed by the highest court in the land, it is time for the President to finally tell the full truth about Phala Phala,” a statement by Steenhuisen said.

Meanwhile, an EFF statement slammed the President’s “senseless” and “irrational” decision to approach the Constitutional Court in a bid to evade accountability. The two opposition parties displayed a rare moment of unity on Wednesday — both calling for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala scandal.  

The Red Berets repeated their longstanding demand for the President to resign.

Note: This timeline contains a summary of complex, intricate and often disputed details. Daily Maverick is likely not able to document everything. Please consult the supporting documents provided for further information.

This is a developing story and this timeline will continue to be updated. It was last updated on 1 December 2022. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • L Dennis says:

    And the VBS money? And what about all the other looters in government. Did Zondo enquiry put anyone behind bars yet? All the taxpayers money. DA please focus on your outstanding record of being servant leadership. Working on what matters. God bless South Africa.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The spin by Vincent Magwenya does not detract from the fact that the report of the panel stands until set aside by a court of law. There were all sorts of legal plumbers who were all over from Thuli Madonsela, Richard Calland to Paul Hoffman who opined that the President was right to go to the Constitutional Court to set aside the findings and the Constitutional Court has spoken and the legal plumbers are silent. What people did not notice was the use of the court as a gimmick to get the ANC MPs to vote down the report. We noted then and now that it was not brought on an urgent basis because the President knew that he would lose the case as the panel findings were solid. The trick was to say that the President was reviewing the matter and therefore the parliament cannot adopt the report whilst there is a legal process and the legal plumbers knew that it was a gimmick. The Constitutional Court saw the gimmick and abuse of the court process by a head of state. No court will set aside the findings of the panel and he will have to do a Zuma and appeal after appeal. If we are to expect the Hawks and the captured Public Protector to do anything we need our heads examined. The Hawks cannot investigate their boss or commander in chief and the Acting Public Protector who has an eye to the job will not produce any report. The parliamentary process was the only thing left for the public to get what really happened at Phala Phala. The President has kept the issue alive with the courts.

    • Graeme de Villiers says:

      It seems for many things happening these days, “if we are to expect . . . to do anything we need our heads examined.” South Africans must be the most hopeful people on earth.

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