The last-ditch attempt by the EFF to petition the Constitutional Court on how the National Assembly dealt with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala matter “could trigger an early election”.
Ahead of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday night, the EFF confirmed it had filed papers in the Constitutional Court to declare Parliament’s decision not to adopt the independent panel’s report on Phala Phala “irrational and unlawful”.
The panel led by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo found that Ramaphosa may have violated his oath of office in relation to the Phala Phala saga.
However, that report was shot down when the ANC used its majority, meaning Ramaphosa was not compelled to be probed further on the matter, denying him an opportunity to clear his name.
In their notice of motion, the EFF further sought, in respect of Rule 129I of the Rules of the National Assembly, declaring that the rule is “inconsistent with the Constitution, as it allows the (National Assembly) to vote against any possible impeachment proceedings in circumstances where a prima facie case has been made against a sitting president by the panel, alternatively on the basis that it is impermissibly vague”.
Policy analyst Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said: “We can already see plenty of surprising political moves from inside and outside Parliament that will have consequences for us all in 2024. Some prominent figures in the ANC may end up indicted for corruption, following their being implicated in the state capture report and other investigations. Or in jail. Or, some experts say, all of the above.
“Suppose the current manoeuvres, which include Constitutional Court litigation and another motion of a vote of no confidence, by some opposition parties in Parliament to impeach President Cyril Ramaphosa gain traction.
In that case, there is a good chance the moments could trigger an early election instead of waiting until May,” said Nyembezi.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said this formed part of the EFF’s strategy to hold the president and the executive accountable.
“Raising points of order is part of the process. Peaceful protest is another form.
The EFF is of the view that it would suffer irreparable harm should it be disallowed to be part of Sona. The ANC uses its majority to push decisions that are aimed (at protecting) the president.
Time is too tight. The Constitutional Court could also bail out the president by claiming that the time is too short to meaningfully engage issues at hand,” said Seepe. Approached for comment, presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: “Let us get through Sona.”
Parliament did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Thursday.