ANC adopts Nkandla posture 2.0 in shielding Ramaphosa

There’s a sense of deja vu as the ANC laagers around its president ahead of next week’s Phala Phala impeachment debate. The DA, and most other opposition parties, will be voting to support the establishment of an impeachment inquiry. It’s a motion that only requires a simple majority (50% plus one), but that isn’t as simple as the name denotes. Not when the ANC holds 57% of parliamentary seats. The ANC caucus in Parliament has been instructed to quash next week’s debate on the Phala Phala report in a posture incredibly reminiscent of its protection of former President Jacob Zuma. BizNews correspondent Michael Appel spoke with DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube (before Eskom so rudely cut our conversation short) about the potential outcomes and complexities of the matter. – Michael Appel

Excerpts from interview with DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube

Siviwe Gwarube on how the Speaker should back the work of the independent panel

I think it’s important to state that as the DA we are of the view that Parliament had initiated this process, we had commissioned this report at great public cost. It’s estimated that the the true cost of this independent panel ranges at about R2m or R3m, so that is public money which was spent starting this process because a Section 89 process had been invoked by the ATM. And so when we all participated in nominating members of this panel, accepting the appointment of this panel, when the Speaker appointed the panel, we all took responsibility, accountability and ownership of the work that that panel will do. And therefore, when the panel comes back and says, based on what we were able to look at, even though our scope of investigating is very limited – based on the information that was collated by opposition parties – and his responses to us and the questions we put to him, we are of the view that the president has some questions to answer for. Also, that it believes he may have broken sections of the Constitution and by extension, broken his oath of office. Now, regardless of what you make of the quality of the report, or the motive of the report, the reality is that everybody was behind the work of this panel, including the ANC, up until that very point where the panel found that the president may have broken his oath of office. Now all of a sudden the report is picked apart and all of a sudden motives around the report are picked apart. And now the Speaker is in a pickle, because, the president has taken this report on review. And ultimately she is one of the respondents and is ordered to represent all 400 of us who commissioned this report to take place in the first place. And so she ought to respond to that review and back the panel, because the panel has done the work that we expected it to do in the confines of the rules that are there. And so now the ANC, as disappointing as it is, we have heard that they’ve instructed their MPs to vote against the report and the recommendations.

On how Parliament can proceed while a request for judicial review is pending

The Speaker even sought legal opinion about whether or not the matter is now sub judice and would prevent Parliament from voting on the matter next week Tuesday. The legal opinion came back and said, well the president hasn’t interdicted Parliament. He’s simply made an application. And so it is exactly just that. Of course the president is within his rights to seek to review the report if he believes that there are deep inaccuracies and and that maybe his responses were misinterpreted, even though he was given an opportunity to respond in writing. This is going to be yet another test for the speaker of the National Assembly, who has not covered herself in glory when it comes to being loyal to the National Assembly and to Parliament by ridding herself of this notion that she’s still an extension of the executive. If she’s really committed to the institution, she has to make sure that she’s guided by the rules and actually acts like the head of an institution which is independent from government.

On the DA refusing to bring a motion of no confidence as requested by the EFF

Opposition parties approached us to say we should, as the official opposition, file a motion of no confidence. And our view was simple. In the National Assembly rules, there is a rule called the rule of anticipation. And our view is that if you’ve got an impeachment process already under way, overlaying that with a motion of no confidence will be ruled out of order on the basis that it contravenes the rule of anticipation. Because an impeachment seeks to remove a president from office in a very different way from a motion of no confidence. But the tools seek to do the same thing. And if, hypothetically, the Section 89 process of impeaching the President is successful, it renders your motion of no confidence moot.

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