Ramaphosa shouldn’t resign but we “have to proceed to second phase” in impeachment process

The Good party is one of the lone voices among opposition parties that isn’t calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to resign based on the preliminary findings of the independent panel’s report on Phala Phala. The party’s secretary general, Brett Herron, spoke to BizNews correspondent Michael Appel about Good’s perspective on the “untested findings” and the precedent it would set should anyone be required to step down based on prima facie findings without thoroughly interrogating their veracity. Herron wouldn’t commit to how Good would vote in the motion being debated on Tuesday to establish a more substantial impeachment inquiry, but left the door open to the possibility of voting in the affirmative. He made the point that while the media may be playing the numbers game on how many ANC MPs would be required to vote with opposition parties to pass the motion with the required 50% plus one, opposition parties are not united on the stance that will be taken on Tuesday. – Michael Appel

Excerpts from interview with Good secretary general Brett Herron

Brett Herron on their initial response to the findings of the independent panel

I was concerned in two respects. First of all, if the allegations are true, then obviously there are a number of red flags for South Africa and for our constitutional democracy and for the future of the presidency. So I had those concerns. Secondly, I think there are some elements of the report that are concerning in terms of its form and in terms of reaching those conclusions as to whether the panel was competent to reach the conclusions that it did based on what evidence it had before it. So I was concerned in two ways, both in that the panel was able to reach the conclusions it did with the evidence that it had before it. And secondly, if the allegations are found to be true, then the consequences for our country are also destabilising and quite serious.

On whether questions around the impartiality of panel member Adv Mahlape Sello are valid or not

You may or may not know that our party was the party that nominated Professor Richard Calland to serve [on the independent panel]. And we didn’t think that he needed to to recuse himself or to agree to step down. And nor should he have been asked to step down, because our view is that as a legal professional, he would be able to bring the requisite objectivity to the process. I’m a lawyer, too, it’s part of our training to bring that objectivity. So I am reluctant to jump on the bandwagon that any legal professional is not competent to serve because of the clients they may have represented in the past. There are other aspects that may be of concern, but the fact that Adv Sello represented Ace Magashule, I think is is not something that should lead anyone to conclude that she is biased or was unable to bring an objective mind to the deliberations. I have to accept, at face value, that as a legal professional, she conducted herself as you would expect a legal professional to do.

On how Good plans to vote on Tuesday’s motion regarding the establishment of an impeachment enquiry

We know that a day in politics has now become a long period of time. So at this point, there’s information in the public domain that Ramaphosa intends to approach the Constitutional Court to review and set aside the report. We haven’t seen those papers, so we don’t know what the arguments are if they are ready. Although we have doubts about the the content or whether the panel was able to reach the conclusions it did, there is nothing, as constitutionalists, that allows us to replace the panel’s findings with our own findings. And so at this point, I think we haven’t made a final decision yet, but we certainly are in the place where we’re saying there’s nothing that allows us to deviate from those recommendations. But this obviously depends on what the president does today in terms of bringing a review and whether he gets any order that restrains us from proceeding [with the debate on Tuesday].

On whether there would be sufficient ANC MPs who vote in favour of the motion

There’s no South African who pays any attention to politics who doesn’t know that the ANC, like many parties, is deeply factionalised and that there must be members of parliament who who are in the ANC caucus, who do not support the president and may take this opportunity to vote for the impeachment to proceed. So I can’t speculate that 31 members from the ANC voting with the opposition is possible or not possible. But I think we must also be careful about assuming that all 170 of the opposition members are going to support proceeding. So tomorrow is almost anyone’s guess and we will have to see what happens.

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