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ANC Parliamentarians defend their embattled Ramaphosa

by Staff reporter
09 Jun 2022 at 16:28hrs | Views
The ANC is circling the wagons around President Cyril Ramaphosa to protect him from parliamentary scrutiny as he faces his biggest political crisis during his term as the president.

"Now you want us to summon the president on allegations? That, we are not going to do," ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina told the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) on Thursday morning.

This, after ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula insisted that a question session with Ramaphosa be scheduled, as parliamentary rules require.

Two weeks ago, the ANC contingent pushed through a decision to allow two question sessions with Ramaphosa in the next term, despite the opposition's remonstrations.

Rule 140(1) of the National Assembly states: "Questions to the president must be - (a) scheduled in accordance with Rule 210 for a question day at least once per quarter during session time within the annual programme."

That was before controversial former spy and prisons boss Arthur Fraser opened a kidnapping and money laundering case against Ramaphosa, Presidential Protection Unit head Major General Wally Rhoode and Crime Intelligence members for allegedly concealing a burglary at Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

According to Fraser's affidavit, Ramaphosa had at least $4 million in cash stashed there and then played a part in a cover-up, following an allegedly illegal investigation into the matter.

Several questions about Ramaphosa's conduct have been raised.

Zungula and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa wrote to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to request parliamentary investigations into Ramaphosa.

At the start of Thursday's NAPC meeting, Mapisa-Nqakula said she was "considering the substantive issues raised".

Zungula also asked her to reconsider the decision to allow Ramaphosa to not answer questions in the National Assembly this term.

"I've responded by declining the request on the basis that the decision was properly considered by the committee," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

"These are just matters I wanted you to take note of. It is not for discussion."

However, later in the meeting, as the committee dealt with the programme, Zungula raised the matter.

"We are having a serious issue on our country whereby a president has allegations against him, therefore it cannot be business as usual, and Parliament can't as if it is nonchalant on the issues that are raised [about] a head of state. We know that there are investigations going on…" he said, before he was cut short by House chairperson Grace Boroto, who was chairing the meeting at the time.

"Honourable Zungula, let me redirect you. We are in a programming meeting," she said.

Zungula said he wanted to see a question session with Ramaphosa on the programme before the term ends.

"Before the term ends, the president must come to Parliament and take the nation into his confidence on whatever he is accused of," he said.

Majodina said Mapisa-Nqakula was considering Holomisa and Zungula's letters.

"I think that is enough."

Majodina added:

Now you want us to summon the president on allegations? That we are not going to do. That is not within the rules anywhere. On allegations, the case is not with us, the case is opened [at] the police station, wherever. But on what basis should we summon the president?

Majodina's response was reminiscent of what ANC MPs said when state capture allegations first emerged.

UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said Zungula's point was that when the committee decided to defer the question session, the context was completely different, with no allegations against the Ramaphosa.  

EFF MP Hlengwiwe Mkhaliphi asked what Mapisa-Nqakula was doing about the allegations against Ramaphosa.

She said:

What is the speaker doing about these serious allegations that are facing the president? We must not be seen as rubber stamping of Cabinet. We are here because of Parliament, which is supposed to ensure Cabinet, ministers, the executive, is held accountable, especially if there is a serious matter [such] as this matter that is dominating the country.

Majodina was backed by her deputy, Doris Dlakude.

"I don't see why we want to reschedule that," she said.

And that was the end of the matter.

The committee heard that Ramaphosa would be available to answer questions on 30 August and 29 September.

This means five months would have passed between presidential question sessions because Ramaphosa last answered questions in the National Assembly on 17 March.

The NAPC meeting took place hours before Ramaphosa was expected in the National Assembly for a debate on the Presidency's budget vote.

It will be his first appearance in the House since Fraser laid the charges.

Source - online