Impeachment: Speaker, EFF butt heads

The National Assembly speaker has shot down the EFF’s proposal to reopen the impeachment inquiry over the Phala Phala allegations, handing President Cyril Ramaphosa another lifeline.

As soon as the Constitutional Court on Wednesday dismissed Ramaphosa’s request for direct access to set aside the previous impeachment inquiry report that found a prima facie case of wrongdoing against him, the EFF rushed to the speaker’s office armed with a fresh request to resuscitate last year’s probe.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu says the Constitutional Court’s decision affirmed the findings of Parliament’s Section 89 Independent Panel that was commissioned by Parliament last September. The panel had to establish whether Ramaphosa had violated the Constitution and the law, and was guilty of misconduct.

The allegations stem from a housebreaking and theft at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo, where thieves allegedly stole between $4-million and $8-million hidden inside a sofa in February 2020.

Ramaphosa said the foreign currency was yet to be banked following the purchase of buffaloes by a Dubai-based Sudanese businessman.

Shivambu said in the EFF’s letter that “Ramaphosa sought the Constitutional Court’s intervention to review and set aside the panel’s report [and the court] concluded that no case has been made out for exclusive jurisdiction or direct access. The report, therefore, stands as the authority on the matter that should guide the National Assembly, and we write as the EFF to request the establishment of an impeachment committee for the Section 89 inquiry.”

The EFF wanted Mapisa-Nqakula to “urgently schedule the matter of the Constitutional Court judgment and the panel report in the National Assembly Programming Committee, wherein we will propose to the meeting that the matter must be scheduled for the National Assembly sitting scheduled for March 2, 2023”.

Mapisa-Nqakula disagreed, saying the National Assembly had already addressed the Section 89 inquiry into the Phala Phala burglary through ATM president Vuyo Zungula’s motion. According to the rules, she added, the panel report was put before the house for consideration and on December 13, the assembly “resolved not to proceed to refer the matter to an impeachment committee”.

She said her advice was that the decision of the Constitutional Court “in no way invalidates the decision of the assembly”.

“The court made no findings in relation to the merits of the panel report, or the validity of the assembly,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

She also said “the assembly rules make no provision for the matter to be referred to an impeachment committee outside of the prescribed process”.

EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo released a media statement following the Constitutional Court’s decision, saying: “It would be irrational, senseless, and reckless for the speaker to refuse to hold Ramaphosaaccountable.

“Ramaphosa has undermined the economy of South Africa by smuggling money into this country, not paying tax, and violating the constitution.”

Thambo added: “Parliament must gain access to Phala Phala farm, subpoena Mr Ramaphosa, interview all the workers including his protectors and advisor, gain footage of all of what transpired, and call all state institutions that did not do anything about Phala Phala”.

He referred to the South African Revenue Services, the South African Reserve Bank, and the Financial Intelligence Centre, and “all other institutions and entities that are obliged to act against all forms and manifestations of financial crimes”.

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