Media Statement On the DA motion calling for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on the Phala Phala theft
The National Assembly Mini Plenary debate on 27 September 2022 and the vote on their motion on 28 September 2022, which was defeated by a wide margin, has been poorly interpreted by some people and led to repeated cliches being circulated, cliches that the sponsors of the motion raised in the debate. What is important to state are the facts and not distortions and untruths.
Since June 1st 2022, when the former head of the State Security Agency laid criminal charges against President Ramaphosa over a burglary at his Phala Maphosa game farm in February 2020, we have witnessed various commentators expressing their opinions. There has been no shortage of political parties expressing all sorts of opinions, whether they have facts or not.
When dealing with a matter like this, we should be guided by the principles of law and facts, as opposed to what an individual or political party wish to be the desired outcome.
Let us state the following facts: -
The fact is that a burglary is confirmed to have happened at the President’s business game farm and that a case of money laundering, defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping has been opened at the Rosebank Police Station.
The fact is that the South African Reserve Bank’s Financial Surveillance department is probing allegations related to the matter of foreign-exchange transactions related to the burglary at the President’s game farm.
The fact is that when allegations of break-in and theft at the Presidents’ business game farm were brought before law enforcement agencies, the Presidency released a press statement on the 2nd of June 2022 that stated that: "President Ramaphosa stands ready to cooperate with any law enforcement investigation of these matters’’.
The fact is that the Office of Public Protector is investigating the theft that took place at the Presidents’ game farm, and the spokesperson of the Public Protector is on record having said that: “the Constitution prohibits any interference with the functioning of the institution. The PPSA, therefore, views the actions of those exerting pressure on the institution to publish the evidence in question, while the investigation is underway, as constituting the interference contemplated in the Constitution and calls upon them to desist from such conduct.”
The fact is that in response to a letter from the DA to the Speaker, the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence has investigated certain allegations pertaining to the alleged involvement of the Deputy Minister responsible for State Security as well as the alleged abuse of the State Secret Crime Intelligence Fund. These allegations were dismissed as rumours by the Committee. The Committee found that there was “no independently verifiable information to support the allegations”.
The fact is that the African Transformation Movement submitted an amended motion in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution and Rule 129 A-Q of the National Assembly Rules on 18 July 2022, which in terms of Rule 129C, requires that when the motion is in order, the Speaker must immediately refer it and supporting documents to an independent panel of experts.
This panel has been established to conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether there is prima facie evidence to sustain the motion, and that grounds exist to initiate the impeachment process of the President. The panel will assess all evidence placed before it and submit to Parliament its findings and recommendations within 30 days.
The fact is that parallel to the Parliamentary process, the Hawks, SAPS, South African Reserve Bank and the Office of the Public Protector are carrying out investigations. Despite this, the DA is not satisfied that we have five institutions investigating the matter and want an Ad Hoc Committee in addition. Four of these institutions are specialised and skilled in investigating matters of theft and any subsequent breach of law. It is their task to enforce the law through due process. The standpoint of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus is, that with respect to the matter of the Phala Maphosa game farm theft, due process must be followed in order to establish the facts, so that evidence informs how Parliament should respond. Parliament has taken a decision on how to handle the section 89 matter and all political parties have made their nominations of names for the Independent Panel.
Therefore, contrary to what the DA is trying to claim, that the ANC Caucus is shielding the President; not respecting Parliament (referring to themselves in the National Assembly); blocking accountability and blocking a Parliamentary probe is not true, given that the ANC is participating in the Parliamentary process and welcomed the appointment of the Independent Panel and participated in its establishment.
It is because we respect the decision of the National Assembly and the competency of the Independent Panel, that we disagree that an Ad Hoc Committee should be set up as a parallel process. We respect the Section 89 process and it must be given space to conclude its work.
In addition, the DA has tried to state that the Ad Hoc Committee is not meant to investigate the President as this will be dealt with in the Section 89 process and that the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee is meant to lead inquiries into government departments and state entities.
Again, we will repeat what we have always stated, that Parliament creates through rules, responsibility for Committees to conduct oversight over their specific Department or Entity. This should not be usurped because the DA sees political mileage and attention by wanting to set up an Ad Hoc Committee.
There needs to be substantive evidence for Parliament to agree that an Ad Hoc Committee should be established. In particular, responding to allegations which require investigation by law enforcement agencies should be placed with those agencies not in an Ad Hoc Committee.
We remain consistent that accountability and ensuring that when allegations are raised against the Head of State, due process by competent institutions of the State be followed, is central in testing the veracity of any allegations.
At the level of Parliament, Parliament needs to keep to the dictates of due process and evidence and not be swayed by the desires of any over enthusiastic political party on what they want the outcomes of a process to be.
The DA motion was a rushed and opportunistic attempt to pre-empt ongoing and credible investigations, to try and achieve cheap political lime light and publicity at the expense of facts.
Issued by the Office of the Chief Whip, Cde Pemmy Majodina