President Cyril Ramaphosa now only has six days left to respond to the information that some National Assembly members have submitted to the Section 89 Independent Panel of Experts. Ramaphosa has been given from 28 October to 6 November 2022, within which to respond to any of the submitted information. The African Transformation Movement (ATM), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) are among the parties that have made submissions.
The Independent Panel led by retired Constitutional Court Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo is assessing the ATM draft motion brought by party Leader Vuyo Zungula calling for Ramaphosa’s removal from office. Zungula invoked Section 89 of the Constitution and National Assembly Rule 129 (C) for Ramaphosa’s removal.
Section 89 Removal
In terms of Section 89 (1) (a)(b) (c) of the Constitution, the National Assembly, by a resolution adopted with a supporting vote of at least two-thirds of its members, may remove the President from office only on the grounds of a serious violation of the Constitution or the law, serious misconduct or inability to perform the functions of the office. This would require at least 266 to 267 of the 400 members of the Assembly to vote in favour of the motion to remove a President from office under Section 89. It further states that anyone who has been removed from the office of President for violating the Constitution or the law, or serious misconduct, may not receive benefits and may not serve in any public office.
The Section 89 Independent Panel of Experts preliminary assessment will determine whether the President has a case to answer on any of the constitutional grounds. A panel of experts that are appointed, exist for a certain period in terms of National Assembly Rule 129 (C). The rule determines the process that has to be followed whenever a substantive draft motion is brought by a Member of the National Assembly to remove a President from office in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution. Such a motion which should be accompanied by prima facie evidence is submitted by the MP and has to be approved by the National Assembly Speaker before other processes unfold. The processes include the selection, and appointment of a panel, its timelines to conduct the investigation and report back to the Speaker within thirty days after its assessment.
In the ATM draft motion which the panel is assessing, the party brought charges of serious violation of the constitution and the law, as well as serious misconduct. In its submission, the ATM alleges that the President violated the constitution by getting paid work to the extent that he even identified some of his customers in a hall during an ANC Limpopo Congress, while the constitution prohibits him from engaging in other paid work.
Additional misconduct charge
One of the additional charges of serious misconduct brought by the ATM, stems from his suspension of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The party alleges that President Ramaphosa acted in bad faith, unlawfully and was conflicted when he suspended Mkhwebane. This charge forms part of the supplementary prima facie evidence submitted by the ATM to further advance its substantive draft motion for Ramaphosa to face a Section 89 Inquiry and be removed from office.
The ATM claims that the President’s decision to suspend Mkhwebane was triggered by the 31 questions relating to the Phala Phala farm scandal. It says the President had known for months about Mkhwebane’s pending suspension but did not act. The ATM submitted that Ramaphosa’s conduct was therefore for an ulterior purpose and acted in bad faith just to save his own skin and evade accountability.
”I would like to say that I am a farmer”
In its submission, some of the information provided by the EFF reveal how the President allegedly admitted that he was a farmer, when he addressed an ANC Limpopo Congress on 5 June this year.
In the transcript provided by the EFF, President Ramaphosa allegedly said: ” However, I would like to say that I am a farmer, I am in the cattle business and the game business which has been declared to Parliament and all over, I buy and I sell animals. Sometimes people buy these animals, and some of the people who bought these animals, some of them are here. I do it through the sale, sometimes I do cash and sometimes I do transfers. Sometimes the people who are offshore customers, and some are locals. And some of them come to hunt on the farm”.
Fraser wants Ramaphosa animal sale record obtained – UDM submission
Former State Security Agency Director General Arthur Fraser wants all banking, animal sales and transaction records of President Ramaphosa to be obtained. This is in contained in Frasers’ supplementary complaint to the Hawks, a copy of which the UDM Leader Bantu Holomisa has submitted to the panel. Fraser says Ramaphosa’s sale of animals including auctions, private sales and the hunting that took place at Phala Phala and other farms where he conducts business, must be obtained from the financial period starting 1 March 2019 to the 29 February 2020. He says the records would detail all the transactions, invoice, receipts and communications, including e-mails, in relation to sale and purchases. Fraser says the President’s personal banking records for the same period should also be obtained, detailing all credits and debits from his account.
Some parties made no submissions
Meanwhile two political party leaders in Parliament have already indicated that their parties would not participate in providing information to the panel. Freedom Front Plus Leader Pieter Groenewald added that it will be a futile exercise if the panel does not ask the police to submit information during the preliminary assessment
” The panel investigating the Phala Phala issue as far President Ramaphosa is concerned is now requesting political parties to submit any information they have. The Freedom Front Plus does not have any information beside that has appeared in newspapers, but what is important is that the panel must ensure that the police can supply and submit certain documentation and at least that some of the police officers appear in front of the panel to be questioned. Only then will we know what the truth is behind this whole Phala Phala exercise and if they do not call the police before the panel, then this exercise is absolutely futile”, Groenewald emphasised.
Panel assessment a wasteful expenditure – Hendricks
Al Jama Ah leader Ganief Hendricks described the preliminary assessment by the panel as a wasteful expenditure saying the Phala Phala matter is already under investigation by the various law enforcement agencies. Last week Hendricks said the party believes that it was sufficient to allow the law to take its course.”
”Al Jama Ah is not going to make a submission regarding the Phala Phala preliminary assessment. We feel that the current processes that have been launched are sufficient. However, it is a decision by Parliament and we respect that decision, although for Al Jama Ah that is actually wasteful expenditure.”
Ramaphosa has received submissions
President Ramaphosa has until this Sunday to respond to all the submissions that have been made by those MPs who submitted information to the panel. Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has confirmed that Ramaphosa has received all the submissions:
” Yes he has and he will respond as per deadline”, Magwenya told SABC news in Parliament in a text message.
Video: Political parties in parliament intensify efforts in Phala Phala farm issue