Cape Town - The ANC used its majority to defeat, for the second time, a draft resolution from the DA calling for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to look into all circumstances surrounding the Phala Phala farm gate scandal.
The ANC, with votes from the Good party, NFP and Al-jama-ah, garnered 204 votes to defeat the draft resolution.
The opposition parties – the DA, the EFF, the IFP, UDM, the Freedom Front Plus, ACDP and AIC – managed to secure 134 votes in favour of the establishment of the committee.
“The motion by the chief whip of the official opposition to establish an ad hoc committee is not agreed to,” House chairperson Cedric Frolick said when announcing the votes.
DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube had tabled the resolution after the Constitutional Court dismissed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s application for direct access to the court to set aside and review the report that found he has prima facie case to answer on the Phala Phala.
Gwarube said they acknowledged that the panel’s investigation was limited in scope to Ramaphosa’s involvement.
“There still exists an urgent need for the Assembly to conduct, in line with its constitutional obligations, to maintain oversight of and to ensure that all organs of State are accountable to it, its inquiry into the alleged involvement of several government departments and entities in the alleged cover-up.”
Speaking during the debate, DA leader John Steenhuisen said it was the last chance for Parliament to do the right thing on the Phala Phala matter.
Steenhuisen said there were serious allegations against Ramaphosa, who rode into office with a promise to end the corruption and abuse of what he termed the “nine wasted years” that had preceded him.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu said Ramaphosa was undertaking paid work, whereas the Constitution prohibited him from doing so.
“We must establish an ad hoc committee to investigate everything,” he said.
IFP MP Mzamo Buthelezi said it was important to allay the fears of South Africans who believed the rule of law was trampled on.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the allegations of a cover-up of the Phala Phala scandal have been destructive to the country’s image and have affected investor confidence negatively.
Holomisa also said the delays by SA Reserve Bank, the National Prosecuting Authority, and Hawks’ investigations were not helping to clear the dark cloud on the matter.
“The situation is further complicated by involvement of the police personnel in this saga,” he said.
ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said Parliament had done nothing to fulfil its constitutional responsibility to scrutinize the executive action.
“Parliament can’t wait to delegate its responsibility of oversight to other institutions,” Zungula said.
GOOD party MP Brett Herron said the problem with the proposal from the DA was that nothing has changed since they debated its proposal six months ago and the rejection of the independent panel report three months ago.
He said the Phala Phala matter should return to Parliament for a new decision should the Hawks, the Public Protector, the SA Reserve Bank or Sars conclude that Ramaphosa should be charged with a crime or has acted illegally or in breach of the Executive Ethics Act.
“That hasn’t happened yet, and we should allow the authorities to conclude their investigations without fear, favour, or this opportunistic political interference,” Herron added.
ANC MP Khaya Magaxa said the draft resolution had a predetermined assumption that Ramaphosa was guilty and the call for the committee was contaminated by biases.
Magaxa said the committee posed a risk of undermining the authority and legitimacy of the National Assembly.
He also said there were institutions such as the Hawks and SARB that were tasked with the responsibility to determine whether there was any wrongdoing by the president.
“They want to add an ad hoc committee to create confusion,” he said, adding that the committee would not have sophisticated investigative functions.