DA fights Ramaphosa’s plan to hide Lady R report

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
04 Jun 2023 in News

Note to Editors: A voicenote from the DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen is attached here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will fight President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to hide from the public the report into alleged weapons smuggling to Russia.

According to news reports, Ramaphosa intends to classify the report of the inquiry into whether arms were loaded onto the Russian Lady R in Simon’s Town last December.

The Presidency has also indicated that the investigation’s terms of reference will not be made public.

Hiding the truth about the ANC government’s alleged involvement in smuggling arms to Russia will lead to further economic suffering. Investors will shun South Africa, the Rand will fall further as inflation spirals, and 100 000 jobs could be lost if we are kicked out of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

To protect South Africans from the economic fallout of Ramaphosa’s planned coverup, the DA will not leave this secrecy unchallenged. We have already submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain a copy of the panel’s terms of reference. And we are obtaining legal advice to challenge Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete.

Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa – and of the world – from the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.

Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.

When he announced the establisment of the inquiry – which only came after six months of delay and obfuscation – Ramaphosa conceded that he “decided to establish the enquiry because of the seriousness of the allegations, the extent of public interest and the impact of this matter on South Africa’s international relations.”

However, hiding the findings of the report will only further damage South Africa’s international standing, as it will create legitimate fears of a coverup. The fact that Ramaphosa has suddenly announced his intention to hide the report from the public suggests that he has already become aware of incriminating information that he wants to hide from public view to protect his ANC government.

The stench of a coverup to protect the ANC and help the Russians will make it even more likely that South Africa is kicked out of the AGOA trade agreement with the United States.

Only full and complete disclosure about the extent of the government’s involvement in arming the Russian war effort , and genuine accountability for all involved, will give us a fighting chance to save AGOA. This is why the DA will force full disclosure and accountability through the courts if needs be.

When he established the panel, Ramaphosa also said that it “will evaluate whether constitutional, legal or other obligations were complied with in relation to the cargo ship’s arrival, its stay, the loading or off-loading of its contents, and its departure.”

Hiding the panel’s findings will completely undermine the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law.

It is patently clear that Ramaphosa intends to hide the facts surrounding the Lady R’s docking from the people of South Africa to protect ANC cadres and Russian comrades.

The only logical reason for his sudden turn to secrecy is that Ramaphosa has realised that the report will confirm his government’s role in arming war criminals. Hiding the truth to protect the ANC at the expense, once again, of the people of South Africa, would amount to a violation of his oath of office.

The DA will hold him to account.

Be part of the mission to rescue South Africa, register correctly to vote now at check.da.org.za