ANC NEC instructs MPs to vote against adopting panel report

The ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) has decided its deployees in Parliament will vote against adopting the independent panel’s report on Phala Phala.

The highest decision-making body of the party met in Nasrec, Johannesburg for most of the day on Monday. While President Cyril Ramaphosa was initially there in person he recused himself shortly after the meeting convened as he was the topic of discussion. Addressing the media after the conclusion of what was said to be a “tense” NEC meeting, the party’s Treasurer General Paul Mashatile said: “We don’t divide the house [NEC], we allow debate. That’s why meetings take so long sometimes because we want everyone to express their views. The agreement was that the report has been taken on review by the president, so should Parliament meet tomorrow [to debate the motion to establish an impeachment enquiry], the ANC MPs will vote against it. That’s the decision. We will vote against it.”

Asked what has happened to the ANC’s integrity committee reports on both the Phala Phala saga and the Digital Vibes scandal – which concern Ramaphosa and his presidential rival Dr Zweli Mkhize – Mashatile said that structure will report to the NEC when it meets again on 9 December. It’s unclear whether this means it will have concluded the two reports by Friday or whether it will simply report on the progress it is making.

There are some cabinet members – including Ramaphosa’s longtime political opponents – who have made their demands for him to step aside or resign public. That then begs the question – which was asked but sidestepped by Mashatile – what the consequences will be for ANC MPs who defy the instruction of the NEC and vote in favour of the motion. Mashatile simply said that when the NEC gives marching orders, “We all should toe the line”. Mashatile denies that the ANC is using its majority to shield the president from scrutiny or accountability and highlights that Ramaphosa will continue to assist the multitude of investigations into the Phala Phala theft of, in his version, at least $580,000 from a couch at his Limpopo farm in early 2020.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports below that Ramaphosa has filed papers with the highest court in the land and now awaits a hearing date. It’s unclear what impact his attempt to have the independent panel’s findings set aside may have on Tuesday’s scheduled sitting of Parliament to debate the motion. – Michael Appel

Ramaphosa Digs In, Asks Top Court to Shelve Impeachment Report

By S’thembile Cele and Paul Vecchiatto

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked the Constitutional Court to review and set aside a report by an advisory panel that found he may have a case of impeachment to answer over his handling of the theft of at least $580,000 from his game farm.

Ramaphosa said the panel exceeded its powers and mandate, and misjudged the information it was given, according to a review application emailed by the presidency on Monday. The application was filed a day before parliament was scheduled to debate the panel’s report and decide whether to institute impeachment proceedings against the president. It wasn’t immediately clear if that sitting will still go ahead.

“The court has allocated a case number and we are awaiting a directive from the court about a date for a hearing,” Peter Harris, a partner at law firm Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, which is acting for Ramaphosa, said by phone.

Ramaphosa considered quitting last week after the panel released its damning findings. That option was scrapped at the weekend when his spokesman Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa will file a lawsuit to contest the “clearly flawed” findings and that he will seek a second term as leader of the governing African National Congress at its five-yearly elective conference next week.

The president has said the cash at his farm came from the sale of 20 buffalo to a Sudanese businessman, and his farm manager stored it in a couch in a spare bedroom at his private residence because he thought that would be the safest place to keep it. Ramaphosa denied doing anything wrong or interfering in the investigations — assertions that were rejected by the panel headed by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.

Ramaphosa, 70, a lawyer, former union leader and one of the richest black South Africans, took office in 2018 and was the clear frontrunner to win a second term as ANC leader and president before the panel released its explosive findings.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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