Political parties in Parliament have welcomed the handing over of the Section 89 report on Phala Phala – with some already setting up strategies on how to take the matter forward.
National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, announced on Wednesday that the long-awaited report would be circulated to MPs through the parliamentary announcement platform by the evening.
The independent panel, which had been probing whether or not President Cyril Ramaphosa had a case to answer on the Phala Phala farm theft, finally completed its work and handed over the report.
It was also revealed at the handover ceremony at Parliament’s Imbizo Centre that about R5.3 million had been set aside for the probe to cover administration, logistics and allowances. However, it is unclear how much had actually been spent.
Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, who chaired the panel, said there was an incorrect perception that the panel’s role was to hold Parliament to account.
“That was not our job; our job was to interrogate the information that members (of Parliament) saw fit to present to us; that was the rule made by the National Assembly.
“We could not go beyond that,” Ngcobo said.
Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties said they welcomed the handing over of the report.
GOOD Party MP Brett Herron said they would read the report on Wednesday evening and then make a decision on how the document would be handled on December 6 in Parliament.
“The sober manner in which the report is handled is appropriate given the gravity of the allegations against the president and the impact on our constitutional democracy of having a president undergo this process,” Herron said.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said he was happy the report was publicly handed over.
“This is what we have always wanted.
“How we handle the matter in the House is everybody’s guess; the ANC will always defend their own person, especially if it’s a secret ballot, but it all depends on what the report says,” Holomisa said.
IFP MP Narend Singh expressed hope that after the report was released, members would put political party agendas aside.
“We think this is a significant step; this is something we have been calling for as opposition parties. We appreciate that the independent panel has produced a report; it’s now for us to study the report, have a debate on it, and see how we move forward,” Singh said.
DA leader John Steenhuisen reiterated the DA’s call for an ad hoc committee as opposed to a Section 89 panel.
“We will be making sure that this does go back to that, but for now, I suspect that the president will walk away from this. Just because the report doesn’t find that there are grounds for impeachment does not by any means clear the president from any form of accountability or responsibility or that he has questions to answer,” Steenhuisen said.