The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has seemingly threatened to take the Public Protector’s report on the Phala Phala scandal to court if the findings favour President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Earlier this month, Ramaphosa was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Public Protector’s office in a preliminary report into the 2020 robbery at his Limpopo game farm, much to the dismay of opposition parties.
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The 191-page report, released on 10 March, found that there was no basis to conclude that the president contravened the Executive Ethics Code, or “exposed himself to any risk of a conflict between his constitutional duties and obligations and his private interests arising from or affected by his alleged paid work” at his farm.
The document was sent to all those involved in the matter and was given 10 days to submit their responses before a final report can be concluded.
In their response, the ATM has referred to findings of the independent Section 89 panel, which found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer on Phala Phala, to the Public Protector’s office.
The party said in a statement that it believed the chapter 9 institution’s preliminary report was shielding the president from accountability.
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“In its submission, the ATM provided further elucidation on the four points, contained the impeachment motion namely paid work, exposing himself to risk of conflict of interest, acting inconsistency with his office and abuse of power, and failure to report [the crime] as contemplated in PRECCA’s 34(4)(e). The ATM brought to bear the unparalleled analysis and findings of the [Section 89] panel,” the ATM said on Wednesday.
The party further hinted at going the legal route.
“The ATM hopes that [advocate Kholeka] Gcaleka will apply the law rationally – and impartially – and reach a different conclusion that will avoid unnecessary court review processes.”
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‘Swept under the carpet’
In an interview with eNCA, ATM national spokesperson Zama Ntshona said the Section 89 panel’s report was “spot on and in line with the merits of this particular case”.
He said the panel’s report was “cornerstone” of the ATM’s argument.
“Central to all of this are the admissions of the president when he said I am a farmer, I sell animals, the money from the farm were proceeds from a game sale,” Ntshona said.
READ MORE: Phala Phala: Ramaphosa’s ex-security head, other cops not off the hook
“Also note that Phala Phala is a close corporation with only one owner, so whatever definition you use, the proceeds … or the profits of that particular company are going to go to the president. Therefore, the issue of embarking on other paid work cannot be something that is swept under the carpet because the president himself acceded to that.”
Ntshona further questioned why Ramaphosa’s “confession” was left out of the Public Protector’s preliminary report.
“You don’t have to dig for evidence here… you don’t even have to interview people on this.”
The ATM approached the Public Protector to investigate the scandal after former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser reported the matter to police in June 2022.
Sars tax compliance
The release of the Public Protector’s report came after the South African Revenue Service (Sars). confirmed that $580 000 found at Phala Phala was not declared when it arrived in the country.
Ramaphosa previously claimed to have received the money from Sudanese businessman, Hazim Mustafa, as payment for cattle as part of a legitimate business transaction.
Sars also revealed that the president and his companies – one of them which manages the Phala Phala farm – were compliant with their tax obligations to date.
According to the Presidency, the responsibility to declared the money to Sars laid with Mustafa.
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