Public Protector’s preliminary report reflects worrying misunderstanding of DA’s complaint

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
11 Mar 2023 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the release of the Public Protector’s preliminary report into allegations of a potential violation of the Executive Ethics Code by President Cyril Ramaphosa pertaining to an act of theft at his Phala Phala game farm in February 2020. The report was sent to us at 22:24 late last night.

Given that this preliminary report was only distributed to both the affected and implicated persons, pending the submission of the respective parties’ representations to the Public Protector, it would appear that the content of the report has been leaked.

This is highly unfortunate as the preliminary findings, which have yet to be finalised, are now being reported as truth. It is thus premature of the Presidency to dismiss the matter as the investigation is as yet unfinished.

Our initial analysis of the preliminary report is concerning.

The report contains a number of inherent contradictions, and the Public Protector has outsourced much of the investigatory work to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) where it will be cloaked in secrecy. None of this provides the necessary transparency and accountability to the Republic to conduct oversight over its President.

We also believe that the Public Protector has misunderstood the nature of the conflict of interest raised, and has thus compiled a preliminary report which is not congruent with, or reflective of, the complaint which was lodged.

The DA will be studying the preliminary findings of the report to compile and submit our representations to the Public Protector, and will communicate on these submissions in due course.

What the content of this preliminary report highlights, however, is that there may now exist a clear conflict between the findings of the Public Protector and the Section 89 Independent Panel.

What this means for South Africans is that the water of truth is being muddied and that we are no closer to getting to the bottom of this debacle.This gives credence to the DA’s repeated calls for the establishment of an ad hoc committee into the Phala Phala matter so that members of parliament can be allowed to do their job of arriving at the full, unredacted truth.Such an ad hoc committee will have broad powers to subpoena persons and documents to which the Public Protector clearly was unable to gain access.

It is becoming very clear that only an ad hoc committee would possess the necessary scope and powers to investigate this matter fully.The Phala Phala matter is far from over and the DA will not rest until the truth is finally brought to light.We cannot allow yet another sitting ANC president to dodge accountability through subterfuge, abuse of the courts, and captured institutions.

South Africans, and our democracy, deserve the truth, and President Ramaphosa must be made to tell it.