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ANC rejects motion for parliamentary probe into Phala Phala burglary

Most opposition parties rallied together on Tuesday, to support the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s call for an investigation of the role of state agencies in the matter.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his budget vote in Parliament on 9 June 2022. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN – The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament on Tuesday said the establishment of a committee to probe the theft of foreign currency from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Limpopo farm would create a constitutional crisis.

Most opposition parties rallied to support the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s call for an investigation into the role of state agencies in the matter.

But the ANC dismissed it as a rushed attempt to pre-empt the outcome of other investigations that were still under way.

The DA said Parliament could not be found wanting again for not holding the executive to account.

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Party leader John Steenhuisen said its investigation needed to also extend beyond the president.

“Aside from the dirty dollars on the couch, we need answers from amongst others the State Security Agency, the finance portfolio committee, the presidential protection unit, the Reserve Bank and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. None of those answers will come from a Section 89 inquiry,” Steenhuisen said.

But the ANC closed ranks with one of its Members of Parliament (MPs), Mina Lesoma, saying a distinction had to be made between Phala Phala as a legal entity, and the president who is a major shareholder.

“For the order of convenience, they will purge us into a constitutional crisis and induce Parliament to act well outside of its scope,” Lesoma said.

ANC MPs insisted it was untrue the party was trying to shield Ramaphosa from accountability.

But Parliament had to allow due process to take its course.

CALLAND REPLACED BY SELLO

Meanwhile, University of Cape Town law professor Richard Calland on Tuesday agreed to opt out of serving on a panel to advise Parliament on whether or not Ramaphosa should face an impeachment inquiry.

Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appointed advocate Mahlape Sello to replace Calland.

Sello recently served on the Judicial Commission on state capture.

The DA and Economic Freedom Fighters had objected to Calland’s appointment to the three-member independent panel over concerns of perceived bias towards Ramaphosa.

Calland was nominated by the Good Party to be included on the panel.

In a statement, Calland objected to the accusations but said he was stepping away to protect the integrity of the process.

Mapisa-Nqakula last week said she was taking legal advice on what to do about the complaints against Calland taking on the job alongside former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo and retired judge Thokozile Masipa.

Calland said as a trained lawyer, he was capable of assessing evidence and reaching conclusions based on the impartial application of the law and applicable rules.

He said he would do so regardless of anything he had said or written while wearing the hat of a political commentator.

Nevertheless, Calland said he shared the view of the speaker that it may not be in the best interests of the process to serve on the Section 89 panel.

He added that he didn’t want his appointment to divert attention from the real issues at stake.

Mapisa-Nqakula thanked Calland for availing himself for the job and for accepting her decision to replace him.

The speaker had not yet announced the date of the start of the panel’s 30 days to complete their work.

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