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SA opposition parties reject Phala Phala report clearing Ramaphosa

South african political parties planning to challenge the findings of acting public protector (PP) Koleka Gcaleka’s report on the Phala Phala saga concerning president Cyril Ramaphosa, have a leg to stand on.

This is according to political analysts, following the African Transformation Movement (ATM), ActionSA and the Democratic Alliance (DA) announcing legal action to challenge the findings which cleared Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in terms of the executive ethics code and the abuse of his power.

Among others, the PP’s report on the matter has found: “The allegation that the president abused his power in utilising state resources by causing the Presidential Protection Services (PPS) to be deployed to Phala Phala farm and to investigate a housebreaking with the intent to steal and theft at the said farm is not substantiated.

“The allegation that the president improperly and in violation of the provisions of the executive ethics code exposed himself to any risk of a conflict between his constitutional duties and obligations and his private interests is not substantiated.”

Late last year, Namibian president Hage Geingob was dragged into Ramaphosa’s alleged unlawful actions surrounding the cover-up of the robbery of the undeclared foreign currency at his farm.

This includes suspects being traced to Namibia and Ramaphosa asking Geingob to assist him with the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the robbery, Imanuwela David, in 2020.

Ramaphosa’s investigators, headed by his head of security Wally Rhoode, allegedly told a senior Namibian police official to keep the robbery a secret “due to the sensitivity of the matter and the envisaged fallout it will create in South Africa”.

These and other explosive allegations are contained in a report by an independent panel that investigated whether there are grounds to impeach Ramaphosa for his actions after the robbery, allegedly committed by Namibian suspects, in February 2020.

The ATM, which had lodged a complaint with the PP’s office last year, says it rejects Gcaleka’s report.

“This report contributes to the erosion of our democracy and a growing lack of trust on Chapter 9 institutions, which are tasked with holding this constitutional democracy together. The ATM has taken a decision of approaching the High Court with the aim of reviewing this report by the acting public protector and have it set aside,” the ATM says.

The DA also says it plans to take the report on review.

DA leader John Steenhuisen says: “It is gravely concerning to note the discrepancies between the Nkandla report, which interpretation of similar laws found that former president Jacob Zuma was severely compromised as president of the Republic, yet Cyril Ramaphosa is seemingly assessed by different standards.”

Political analyst Sipho Seepe says the report was a classic case of “see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil”.

“The acting public protector has misdirected herself. She chose to ignore the findings of the Constitutional Court on a matter relating to ‘conflict of interest’.

“Had she done so, she would have come to a conclusion that president Ramaphosa did not only expose himself to a situation in which he finds himself having to juggle between his private interests and those of his office, but is probably guilty of having abused his office.

“It is evident that she either has not bothered to read the report of the parliamentary panel, or chose to ignore it. The panel found that president Ramaphosa has a case to answer after careful consideration of his own submissions and other records.”

A professor at Stellenbosch University School of Public Leadership, Zwelinzima Ndevu, says: “My understanding is that the process of the court review is different from the PP process, and we have seen in the past instances where the PP report has been set aside by a court.

“If political parties are not satisfied with the PP report, it is within their right to approach courts to find relief, to test the application of the law, and challenge the legality of the report.”

– IOL, with additional reporting by own reporter