As opposition parties and the country at large wait with bated breath for the findings of parliament’s Section 89 Panel on Wednesday, the African National Congress (ANC) says it is determined to meet any challenges that may arise.
The independent panel headed by former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo officially handed over its three-volume report, completed over two months, to the National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday.
The Panel was appointed in September to determine whether President Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer with regard to a robbery on his Phala Phala farm in 2020.
It was former President Thabo Mbeki as the keynote speaker at an annual general meeting of the Strategic Dialogue Group last month who first publicly raised the spectre of an unfavourable outcome by the Section 89 Panel.
“You put out a notion like that coming from senior lawyers all of them are senior lawyers and they say we have looked at what we have, what we can and it says to us there is a case to answer, the leadership of the ANC cannot avoid meeting to discuss the question in the light of that, what do we do, do we say to the President step aside or do we say let it continue through the parliamentary process. What is the impact of that on the ANC in the public mind,” explained former President Thabo Mbeki.
Subsequently, President Ramaphosa at a meeting of the National Executive Committee appeared to attempt to deal with the matter. Then he told the ANC’s leadership that he was unable to give full details of the allegations related to the burglary of millions of US dollars from his Phala Phala farm in 2020 on the advice of the Public Protector.
The Chapter Nine institution is currently investigating the matter. Ahead of the Section 89 Panel’s report, Ramaphosa has taken a wait-and-see approach.
“I have put my case forward and of course let’s leave it to that panel to come up with the outcome and we cannot prejudge it, can’t we leave it in the hands of the panel so they are best placed to deal with this matter so any form of speculation is misplaced. Let’s leave it to the panel to report and anything else that flows from that we handle then and we have proven capable of being able to handle issues as they happen,” says President Ramaphosa.
‘ANC ready for any eventuality’
The outcome of the Panel is highly anticipated by opposition political parties and the public at large. The ANC which is understandably bracing for the findings of the report and its ramifications, however, says it is prepared for any eventuality.
“If there is any challenge against any of our leaders we always have to be worried but we believe that due process is important as the moment I know the panel will present its report to the Speaker on Wednesday already our team in parliament said they will come and brief us so we will be ready on Wednesday to receive the report and see what it says we must always be ready to deal with challenges we are ready,” says ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile.
It is not just those on the outside that are closely watching as the ANC’s 55th National Conference looms in the next two weeks. While parliament is expected to consider the Panel’s report on the 6th of December, there are ANC leaders such as ANC NEC leader Lindiwe Sisulu who may well use any negative findings against the President.
“I am uncomfortable with the way it is applied and I would propose as we go into the next conference anybody who we feel has serious allegations against them should step aside for instance the Phala Phala issue for me would call for that until all of us are quite certain that there is nothing wrong, nothing illegal about that but for as long as it keeps hanging on the president it keeps hanging on everyone else, it is not fair to us it is not fair to the President either,” says Sisulu.
The report is expected to be made public on Wednesday night via parliament’s communication channels and website.
The ANC meanwhile has scheduled a meeting of its top officials to deliberate options open to it.