Uproar in parliament as Ramaphosa stays mum on Phala Phala robbery
President Cyril Ramaphosa has again refused to answer questions about the robbery at his Phala Phala game farm, citing “due process” as a number of law enforcement agencies are investigating the matter.
Ramaphosa repeatedly told the National Assembly on Tuesday that he was ready to answer all questions and give an explanation to parliament, but that he was advised against doing so.
“I know that there is a great deal of interest in my answer to this question,” he said. “And I’d like to say that without appearing like I do not want to answer questions, [or] that I do not want to be accountable; I should say that as I indicated before, even in written replies to members of this house, in the debate on the presidency budget vote and in statements on various public platforms, I stand ready to give an explanation and to co-operate with any investigation on this matter,” he said.
It was important to him that due process is followed, he added.
Ramaphosa said he had responded to various questions from a variety of agencies that are investigating the matter.
“Now in the course of what they are working on, the authorities have said it’s best if they deal with all these attendant matters to this theft that occurred at the farm and be able to address every issue.
“I’ve been counselled and advised that it is best to address this matter when those processes have been done and I’d like to say I stand ready to, as people have said, take the nation into its confidence.
“I stand ready to do so, to give an explanation. But for me it’s been important that this matter having occurred, that I should give space, stand back and allow the various agencies to deal with this matter as thoroughly as I believe they are doing,” he said.
Ramaphosa said he was also ready to co-operate with the Section 89 process that will unfold in parliament.
“I stand here as Cyril Ramaphosa not being unwilling to be accountable, I want to be fully accountable and I am saying once again that I’d like and it’s important and even those who are dealing with these matters have said it is important that we give it space and time to deal with all the aspects of this matter.
“It is upon that process reaching whatever point, of either conclusion, that I will be able to speak out on this matter.”
In unison, opposition MPs rejected Ramaphosa’s statement, saying he should account to parliament.
EFF leader Julius Malema said he found it odd that Ramaphosa was prepared to answer to other agencies and not to parliament, the body to which he accounts.
“He says so many questions came to me, and I have answered all those questions but I am not going to answer to you, he says he can answer everybody else except parliament,” he said.
The ATM’s Zungula also rejected Ramaphosa’s explanation.
“The purpose of asking questions, and we, in parliament whereby the National Assembly Table approves those questions, it is because we want answers. If the president does not want to answer, you must rule on that, speaker.
“I can’t move on to ask a follow-up question without the answer being given,” said Zungula.
Zungula had originally asked Ramaphosa:
- whether, notwithstanding the ongoing investigations by the Hawks and the acting public protector, Ramaphosa has considered it prudent to take the nation into his confidence on the serious allegations surrounding his Phala Phala farm by accounting to the people of SA and speaking on the specified issue in the National Assembly, where the elected representatives of the people can engage him on the scandal that has divided the country and caused immeasurable harm to the reputation of the republic; and
- whether with the benefit of hindsight he has found that he could have responded differently to the serious allegations surrounding him with regard to the saga concerning his Phala Phala farm.
The African Transformation Movement (ATM) submitted a motion to speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in June, requesting the house to initiate an inquiry into Ramaphosa’s possible removal from office as provided for by section 89 of the constitution.
Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed during a meeting of the assembly’s programming committee last Thursday that an independent panel was being established to consider evidence that could lead to a full-blown parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
Former correctional services boss Arthur Fraser opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa about a robbery at the farm in which a large sum of cash was allegedly stolen.
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