Phala Phala Report Finds South African President Ramaphosa Violated Oath of Office
Phala Phala Report Finds South African President Ramaphosa Violated Oath of Office. Photo: YouTube screenshot

An independent panel appointed by the Speaker of South Africa’s parliament has found preliminary evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa violated his oath of office… which could lead to impeachment, although unlikely.

“The panel makes some serious findings against the president, chief among them being that he may have violated the constitution,” the DA’s Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube, sad on Wednesday evening. “These are grounds for impeachment proceedings in Parliament. This is exactly why our focus must now be on the Parliamentary process.”

President Ramaphosa, who has not been charged with any crimes, immediately denied any wrongdoing. In a statement published by The Presidency on Wednesday, he said:

“I have endeavoured, throughout my tenure as President, not only to abide by my oath but to set an example of respect for the Constitution, for its institutions, for due process and the law. I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me.”

Ramaphosa is less than a month away from an elective conference that will decide if he gets to run for a second term on the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) ticket at the 2024 polls.

The recommendations were made by a three-member panel set up to inquire if Ramaphosa should be impeached after millions of dollars in cash was allegedly stolen at his private farm, Phala Phala.

The panel said Ramaphosa should face further scrutiny on his ability to stay in office.

“In all the circumstances, we think that the evidence presented to the Panel, prima facie, establishes that the President may be guilty of a serious violation of certain sections of the constitution,” the report said.

The panel said it was evident that Ramaphosa put himself into a situation where there was a conflict of interest between his official responsibilities as president and as a business person involved in cattle and game farming, and that he acted in a manner that was inconsistent with his office.

The Presidency said the conclusions of the panel require careful reading and appropriate consideration in the interest of the stability of government and that of the country. Ramaphosa said he is giving consideration to the report and an announcement will be made in “due course”.

The DA also said it will study the report and DA Leader John Steenhuisen will make an announcement on steps to be taken going forward tomorrow.

The official opposition’s chief whip said this is a defining moment for South Africa’s constitutional democracy and must not be taken lightly.

Gwarube explained that while a vote on whether to institute impeachment proceedings against the president requires a 50% majority, “we do hope that the ANC in Parliament will put party interests aside and abide by the constitutional obligation we all have”.

South African inquiry into President Ramaphosa's farm cash hands report to parliament
South African inquiry into President Ramaphosa’s farm cash hands report to parliament. Photo: Reuters keyframe

The report was handed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on Wednesday by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo. Speaking at the handover, Ngcobo said: “There has been a lot of anxiety, and understandably so, from the people of South Africa. I’d like to thank them for their patience, and for allowing us the necessary space to do our work.”

The Speaker said that 6 December has been set aside for consideration of the report by the National Assembly. “The role of the National Assembly pertaining to this report is articulated in the rules. The House will consider the report, its findings and recommendations and adopt a resolution through a single majority vote, whether a further action by the House is necessary, or not.”

For the United Democratic Movement, it’s simple. Bantu Holomisa tweeted: “President Ramaphosa should pack his bags and go.”

Sources include Reuters, The Presidency, the DA.