Ramaphosa to be forced to answer Phala Phala questions

President Cyril Ramaphosa has missed another deadline to answer the public protector’s questions on the allegations of theft at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

According to acting public protector, Kholeka Gcaleka, Ramaphosa failed to respond by the extended deadline of July 18 and has instead requested another extension which was denied on the same day.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gcaleka said: “We confirm that the president had until July 18 2022 to respond to the allegations letter of June 7 2022 after his previous request to have the initial return date of June 22 2022 extended. A request for a further extension has instead been filed.

“The request for a further extension has been denied and was communicated to the president on July 18 2022.”

Gcaleka said her office will invoke within its powers, a subpoena against Rampahosa to force him to respond to the questions within seven days.

“The PPSA [Public Protector of South Africa] will therefore be invoking its subpoena powers in line with section 7(4) (a) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, read with section 5 thereof. Section 7(4) (a) provides that: for the purposes of conducting an investigation, the public protector may direct any person to submit an affidavit or affirmed declaration or to appear before him or her to give evidence or to provide any document in his or her possession or under his or her control which has a bearing on a matter being investigated, and may examine such person,” said Gcaleka.

“The PPSA would like to reassure the public that the matter remains ongoing and those other investigative tools and methods are being employed to establish the veracity of the allegations that gave rise to the investigation.”

Ramaphosa is being investigated to determine whether he violated the executive members’ ethics code by concealing the theft of over $4-million (R68-million) at his farm. The investigation follows a complaint lodged by the African Transformation Movement for breaching the code of ethics in June.

Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who is currently being grilled at an inquiry into her fitness to hold office, confirmed the root of the investigation a day before she was suspended by the president.

Mkhwebane, who was suspended by Ramaphosa in June, said the investigation would be completed in 30 days, however, it is still not clear what Ramaphosa’s response would be.

The Presidency declared at the time that section 194(3) (a) of the constitution provides that the president may suspend Mkhwebane or “any member of the Chapter 9 institution” at any time following the commencement of the National Assembly’s proceedings for their removal.

However, advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents Mkhwebane at the parliament’s Section 194 inquiry, said the suspension was premature.

Mpofu told the inquiry on June 11 that the suspension was biased, noting that it was granted by someone “who is presently being investigated by the public protector”.

Mpofu argued that the suspension violates the constitution even though the Constitutional Court found that the laws overseeing the impeachment inquiry processes are lawful.

Parliament has a constitutional duty to protect Mkhwebane, said Mpofu, noting that Mkhwebane should only be removed by two-thirds rather than a simple majority, and suggested that Mkhwebane’s impeachment should be voted on by secret ballot.

Mkhwebane is under scrutiny for misconduct in her SA Reserve Bank investigation and her Financial Services Board report, failing to assist farmers affected by the Gupta-linked Estina Dairy scam, and harassing and intimidating her staff.

The first witness, a former senior investigator in her office Teboho Kekana, has testified that Mkhwebane may have tempered with her Reserve Bank report, however, Mpofu disputed the allegations.

The impeachment inquiry against Mkhwebane is currently in its second week with no clear indication of the outcome.

Read more about it: Mpofu accuses first witness Kekana of retaliation for his dismissal

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