DA welcomes Public Protector’s subpoena of Ramaphosa over Phala Phala theft

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
19 Jul 2022 in News

The DA welcomes a decision by the acting Public Protector to subpoena President Cyril Ramaphosa to appear before the institution to explain the events and allegations surrounding the theft of, in excess of USD $4 million, from his Phala Phala residence in February 2020. This follows the acting Public Protector’s refusal to grant an extension to the President, beyond the already extended deadline of 18 July 2022, to submit his affidavit or affirmed declaration on the matter.

It is encouraging to see that Chapter 9 institutions such as The Office of Public Protector, under acting Public Protector, Adv Kholeka Gcaleka, are investigating this matter with the urgency and seriousness that it requires. We have seen very little agency or appetite from other relevant investigatory bodies and institutions such as the South African Reserve Bank, the South African Revenue Services, and the National Assembly to pursue this matter with any determination.

The biggest disappointment is that merely two weeks after the release of the final Zondo Report, which highlighted Parliament’s failure to hold the executive accountable, National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, refused to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala matter. Furthermore, there has been no appetite from the committees on Justice, Police, and Intelligence to investigate the matter either.

It is deeply disturbing that despite the recommendations made by Judge Raymond Zondo regarding parliament’s role in oversight and accountability in our democracy, the National Assembly continues to act as an extension of the ANC, choosing to protect the President and the Executive at all costs. We are seeing history being repeated as Phala Phala becomes Ramaphosa’s Nkandla.

It is unfathomable that President Ramaphosa would request an extension to provide the facts on a matter that took place at his personal residence over two years ago. Surely by now he must have some idea as to what happened, when it happened, and who was involved? The longer President Ramaphosa evades and ignores the Phala Phala investigation, the more damage he inflicts on South Africa and her people.

This is also a deeply embarrassing development for a sitting President, and one which is causing immense damage both to South Africa’s domestic and international image, and the Office of the Presidency. The nation demands answers, not obfuscation and equivocation from our head of state. The President recently told the SACP conference that he does “have answers” for Phala Phala, yet he steadfastly refuses to provide them.

The DA welcomes Acting Public Protector, Adv Kholeka Gcaleka’s decision to act against President Ramaphosa in the interests of accountability and transparency. Now, more than ever, we must ensure that the principle of the rule of law is upheld and that no South African, not even the President of the Republic, is allowed to escape it. If the President thinks he can bury his head in the sand on this matter in the hopes that it will go away, he is mistaken. The Democratic Alliance will continue to pursue this matter in every forum available.

If anything, the Zondo commission has shown us that it is imperative that executive accountability must be applied without fear or favour.