The independent panel set to investigate whether grounds exist for an impeachment inquiry against President Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to start its work. The Section 89 panel consisting of retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, Judge Thokozile Masipa, and advocate Mahlape Sello, was appointed by National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
However, parliament is still finalising administrative arrangements with regard to service agreements.
Former State Security Agency Director General Arthur Fraser alleged that the president of the country had violated the laws of the country. Millions in foreign currency were stolen from his game farm, Phala Phala, in Limpopo two years ago.
Fraser alleges that the crime was not reported.
During a recent question and answer session in the National Assembly, the president denied that the money was the proceeds of criminal activity.
“There was a theft at the farm and I reported that to a general of the South African Police who later informed me that he had also reported it to another general of the South African Police. That matter is obviously under processing within the police service. I deny that there was any form of money laundering. I have said and said it more publicly that it was proceeds of the sale of the game.”
VIDEO | President Ramaphosa addresses questions around Phala Phala farm case:
Based on Fraser’s allegations, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) brought a Section 89 motion against the president.
Section 89 of the Constitution provides grounds for the National Assembly (NA) to remove a president.
The three grounds are: if the president violates the constitution or the law, serious misconduct, or an inability to perform the functions of the office. To set off this process in the NA, a motion must be submitted to the speaker who must put together a three-member panel to investigate whether evidence exists for possible removal.
This panel will have 30 days to conduct its work. If this panel finds evidence, the matter is referred to a sitting of the Assembly, where a decision must be made about instituting an inquiry. If an inquiry goes ahead, the rules of the National Assembly (NA) state that an impeachment committee must be established. The impeachment committee will investigate allegations leveled against the president and a report will be tabled in the NA. If a recommendation is made that the president must be removed from office, MPs will vote on the matter. A two-thirds majority is required to remove a president from office.
While the service agreements of the Section 89 panel were expected to be finalised last week Friday, the panel is yet to start its work.
Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says, “The administrative arrangements which include processing the modalities of engagement with each of the panel members are currently underway to pave the way for the panel to commence its work. Once these administrative processes are concluded, the panel will get down to its work and report to the speaker on its findings and recommendations as provided for as in the rules of the National Assembly.”
A previous member of the panel, Professor Richard Calland, withdrew from the process after consultation with the speaker, after some opposition parties voiced their concern over his independence.