Cape Town - The ATM will on Monday receive a legal opinion whether to challenge acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka’s decision to grant President Cyril Ramaphosa an extension to answer questions in connection with the “Farmgate” scandal.
This comes after it emerged on Friday that Ramaphosa asked for an extension after he did not meet the June 22 deadline to answer 31 questions initially posed by now suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
On Sunday, ATM spokesperson Sibusiso Mncwabe confirmed that they have sought legal advice.
“It is us who filed a complaint with the Public Protector. We expected to be informed as a complainant when the president asked for an extension,” Mncwabe said.
ATM leader Vuyo Zungula lodged a complaint with the Public Protector asking Mkhwebane to institute an investigation into possible breach of the Executive Members Ethics Act (EMEA) early last month.
Zungula lodged the complaint after former State Security Agency director Arthur Fraser laid criminal charges against Ramaphosa in connection with the theft of millions of dollars at his Phala Phala game farm two years ago.
“It is the view of the ATM that anyone with cash amounting to millions of US dollars can only be involved in trading, whose legitimacy needs to be established. Whether the trading is illegal or not is, it constitutes paid work and thus a violation of the said section of constitution. Please investigate,” he wrote in his letter.
Zungula said it was unclear whether Ramaphosa stopped his business dealings upon assuming his role as the deputy president.
Prior to her suspension, Mkhwebane confirmed receipt of the complaint and undertook to probe Ramaphosa for allegedly breaching the executive code of ethics.
Zungula wrote again asking Gcaleka if the people written to by her office responded or not, and whether she was confident she would get cooperation from all the implicated parties to meet the 30 day deadline.
“This office is seized with the investigation of your complaint and remains fully committed to finalise without undue delay,” Gcaleka responded.
Last Friday, the ATM issued a statement alleging that Gcaleka entered into a “private deal” with Ramaphosa.
“The ATM expects Advocate Gcaleka to issue a clear statement to explain this secret deal and why the ATM as complainant was not informed.”
This prompted Gcaleka to issue a statement late on Friday, saying the investigation remained on track and confirming that Ramaphosa was granted an extension.
The ATM took to Twitter on Saturday announcing it was taking legal advice on whether to bring an urgent application to set aside the potentially unlawful “secret deal” between Ramaphosa and Gcaleka to extend the deadline to the 31 questions without notifying the complainant and the public.
On Sunday, Mncwabe said Gcaleka went public about granting Ramaphosa an extension after his party exposed the “secret deal” a day before.
He insisted that, as a complainant, the ATM should have been informed about the request for an extension.
“The reason we sought legal opinion is to see whether we can’t set aside the extension granted to President Ramaphosa. Our lawyers will come to us with a legal opinion today (Monday),” Mncwabe said.
Meanwhile, the ATM is waiting for National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to make a decision on whether she will establish a parliamentary inquiry into the “Farmgate” scandal after Zungula tabled a motion.
“We did send a follow-up letter to her and she wrote back saying she will come back to us,” Mncwabe said.
In her letter dated June 27, Mapisa-Nqakula said: “Please be assured that your motion is receiving due consideration. I am applying my mind regarding compliance of the motion with the constitution and the rules.”