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President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: LIESA JOHANNESSEN-KOPPITZ/BLOOMBERG
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: LIESA JOHANNESSEN-KOPPITZ/BLOOMBERG

Seven opposition parties represented in parliament have unanimously decided to hold President Cyril Ramaphosa accountable over the Phala Phala scandal.

The DA, EFF, IFP, ATM, UDM, ACDP and NFP held a meeting on Wednesday where they agreed that the concealment of the president’s responses to the public protector is unacceptable and must be challenged. 

“All the opposition parties expressed misgivings and discontent with the manner in which the speaker of parliament has thus far handled the demands of political parties to hold the president accountable,” the grouping said in a statement.

Former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and assault against Ramaphosa in February, alleging that foreign currency worth $4m (about R68.3m) was stolen from the president’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

Fraser, who is also a former head of the country’s correctional services department, also alleged a potential cover-up that involved the presidential protection unit head Maj-Gen Wally Rhoode.

Fraser accused the president of having unlawfully instructed Rhoode to investigate the theft.

The alleged offence took place in February 2020 and Fraser laid the charges two years later. A defiant Ramaphosa was adamant that law enforcement agencies would be allowed to conduct their investigation thoroughly without fear or favour.

He has also presented himself to the ANC’s integrity committee and has answered questions put to him by the public protector. Acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka has requested that the president’s response to the office’s questions be kept under wraps, claiming that making them public will undermine investigations.

It is these responses that the opposition parties want to be made public. 

The multiparty grouping also agreed in principle on a way forward in their bid to hold Ramaphosa to account.

They agreed that parliament should hold Ramaphosa accountable and that the public protector should publicly disclose the responses of the president. The said the acting public protector should urgently release the report on the Phala Phala investigations.

Parliament must be physically convened to deal with all parliamentary issues and opposition parties will request a follow-up meeting with the speaker to discuss all accountability issues, including the usage of a secret ballot for motions of no confidence.

The opposition group will hold a follow-up meeting on Wednesday next week to finalise a common approach on the establishment of a section 89 committee, parliamentary ad hoc committee and a motion of no confidence in the president.

The opposition parties will initiate and participate in broader consultations with civil society organisations, non-profit organisations, trade unions and religious bodies to consolidate a common approach and response to holding the executive and sitting presidents accountable. 

This is while they intensify their collective and individual court actions against the speaker, public protector and all other institutions they claim are trying to “suppress” parliament’s constitutional obligations to hold the executive and parliament to account.

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