ATM: Ramaphosa misled the ANC on Phala Phala report

African Transformation Movement (ATM) President Vuyo Zungula has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of using the African National Congress (ANC) members in parliament to block his impeachment process after the Section 89 panel found that he had a lot to explain concerning the money stolen at his Phala Phala farm in Waterberg, Limpopo, in 2020.

Zungula was reacting to an announcement by Ramaphosa’s office that he would no longer be pursuing any legal challenge to review the panel’s report and have it set aside as he had intended in December last year.

According to Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya, the president was advised to no longer pursue the review of the panel’s report after the Constitutional Court ruled on March 1 that his review application “was not within the Court’s exclusive jurisdiction and no compelling case for direct access was made”.

“The president respects the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The president has been advised – which advice he has accepted – that the panel report and all issues associated with it have become moot and they are of no practical and legal consequence because on  December 13 2022, the National Assembly decided to reject the motion to refer the panel report to an Impeachment Committee.

“While that decision remains valid, the Section 89 panel report carries no weight in law. The president has thus been advised not to institute proceedings before the high court for the review and setting aside of the panel report, at this stage. President Ramaphosa reserves his right to bring such proceedings in due course should circumstances change,” said Magwenya. This has not sat well with the ATM, who were actively involved in calling for the impeachment process.

“Mr Ramaphosa has proven to be a person that cannot be trusted. He misled his own organisation by telling them that they must not vote in support of that independent panel report because he was taking it on judicial review.

“Now that the ANC has used its majority in parliament to block any form of an inquiry, he now comes back to say that he is no longer taking that report on review. You have a person who has been found by a former chief justice that he may have committed acts of serious misconduct,” said Zungula.

The ATM leader said the panel report mentioned pinned a serious number of possible violations of the Constitution on the sitting president. “The former chief justice stated that he may have seriously violated the Constitution, he may have seriously violated Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities and he may have seriously violated Section 96 2.A of the Constitution.

“In that regard, we view this as the ATM as a reason for us to push for more accountability. The country can ill afford to have a president that is occupying that office of being a president and a head of State who is going to use scheming to avoid accountability and to answer for his misdeeds,” said Zungula.

“We want to reiterate that the National Assembly took an unconstitutional decision when it voted that it will not scrutinise the actions of the president, whereas there was a report by an independent panel that found that Mr Ramaphosa has a case to answer.”

Last year, the independent panel, led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer to. It added that his explanation that an amount of $580 000 ended up stuffed inside a cushion on his sofa was part of proceeds for selling buffalo was not satisfactory.

Ramaphosa told the panel that the money came from a Sudanese businessman who later told international media that he had declared the money with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) when he visited South Africa in December 2019. This year, SARS told the Democratic Alliance that they had no record of any amount of $580 000 that arrived with a Sudanese businessman.

Meanwhile, Zungula has instituted legal proceedings against the Speaker of the National Assembly over her decision to reject a motion calling for a secret ballot during the parliamentary debate for the adoption of the Section 89 panel report.

The legal proceedings stem from a December 1 letter that Zungula wrote to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula requesting that she consider allowing members of parliament (MPs) to vote using a secret ballot.

The Speaker had rejected efforts by the opposition parties, instead ruling that all MPs would vote publicly by verbally affirming or rejecting the adoption of the report. This resulted in 214 votes against the motion, beating the 148 votes from opposition MPs and five ANC members.

The Western Cape Division of the High Court is yet to make a ruling on the ATM’s application. ANC media liaison officer Amos Phago did not respond to a media inquiry on Zungula’s assertion that Ramaphosa misled the ANC.

Also read: Ramaphosa drops legal challenge of Section 89 panel report

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