Ramaphosa takes Phala Phala report to ConCourt, argues panel misjudged information

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Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa Foto: Deaan Vivier
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa Foto: Deaan Vivier

POLITICS


President Cyril Ramaphosa is looking to nullify the findings of the scathing Section 89 Phala Phala report and render any action that could be consequently taken by parliament as unlawful and invalid on the basis that the panel misconceived its mandate and misjudged the information presented to it.

The papers were filed directly with the Constitutional Court on Monday, amid a Special ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which was called to discuss the report of the independent panel.

Ramaphosa left the meeting after delivering a short political speech, which seemed to be an attempt to allow members to discuss the matter without fear or prejudice.

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Last week, an independent panel appointed by the speaker of the national assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to investigate whether there was any evidence of wrongdoing on Ramaphosa's part in the Phala Phala saga, had said there exists “prima facie” evidence that the president breached anti-corruption laws.

Led by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, the panel found that Ramaphosa may have committed a serious violation of section 34(1) of The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Respondents in the matter, including the panel, which consists of Ngcobo, Judge Thokozile Masipa, advocate Mahlape Sello, as well as African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula and National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, have been given 10 days to file their answering affidavits.

In his affidavit, the president particularly refers to paragraph 264 of the independent panel’s report which states that there is prima facie evidence that the President may have committed:

  • A serious violation of section 96(2)(a) of the Constitution;
  • A serious violation of section 34(1) of the Preventing and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act;
  • Serious misconduct in that he violated section 96(2)(b) of the Constitution by acting in a way that is inconsistent with his office and/or by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business.

Ramaphosa cites in his application that the panel went beyond its mandate, which restricted it on aspects concerning evidence, stating that the panel was irrational in its evaluation of evidence.

“The purpose of this application is to review and set aside the report and particularly its recommendation in paragraph 264. The panel rendered its report and made its recommendation in the exercise of public power. They are thus reviewable under the constitutional principle of legality.

“I submit that the panel misconceived its mandate, misjudged the information placed before it and misinterpreted the four charges advanced against me. It moreover strayed beyond the four charges and considered matters not properly before it. In the second part of the relief sought, he applied for leave for the courts to allow him to bring this matter directly to the Constitutional Court in the interests of justice in terms of section 167(6)(a) of the Constitution and rule 18 of the rules of this court,” read Ramaphosa's application.

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He argues that there should be finality and certainty about the legality of the panel’s processes because of the consequences that followed its recommendations.

“I am advised that only this court can decide whether or not Parliament has failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation, in terms of section 167(4)(e) of the Constitution. Parliament is under an obligation to act lawfully when fulfilling its constitutional obligations.

“Section 167(6) (a) of the Constitution, and rule 18 of this court’s rules, allow a litigant to approach this court directly, but only when it is in the interests of justice; there are exceptional circumstances; the matter in question must be of public importance and there would be prejudice to the public interest, the ends of justice or good governance.

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“Section 167(6) (a) of the Constitution, and rule 18 of this court’s rules, allow a litigant to approach this court directly, but only when it is in the interests of justice; there are exceptional circumstances; the matter in question must be of public importance and there would be prejudice to the public interest, the ends of justice or good governance.” read the papers.


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