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SA: Ramaphosa called a ‘criminal’, ‘gangster’ as opposition demand release of Phala Phala report

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By News24.com

  • Opposition political parties represented in Parliament held a picket outside the office of the Public Protector in Pretoria. 
  • The members of Parliament demanded that acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka release her report into the Phala Phala saga. 
  • EFF leader Julius Malema and other leaders took turns describing President Cyril Ramaphosa as a criminal who had to be held accountable with the release of the Phala Phala report. 

SOUTH AFRICA: Opposition political parties described President Cyril Ramaphosa as a “gangster”, “thief”, and a “criminal” as they demanded acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka release her report into the Phala Phala investigation.

The EFF, ACDP, COPE, UDM and ATM leaders led a few hundred supporters to the Office of the Public Protector in Pretoria on Friday, and held a picket to demand the release of the findings of the Phala Phala investigation.

They told Gcaleka that she should release the report even if it was incomplete.

The acting Public Protector is probing ethical questions related to criminal activities at Ramaphosa’s Limpopo farm in February 2020 and whether he violated the executive code of ethics.

A complaint was laid by the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and since then Ramaphosa has had to answer several questions from the office.

Last Tuesday, in a question session in the National Assembly, ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula asked Ramaphosa to “take the nation into his confidence” on Phala Phala. Ramaphosa refused. He said investigations were ongoing, he was cooperating with the “relevant authorities”, and he had been advised “that it is best to address these matters when those processes have been done”.

Opposition Members of Parliament have grown impatient.

EFF leader Julius Malema led the charge against Gcaleka, who stood on the makeshift stage listening to the list of demands from political leaders to her office about the investigation.

Malema said:

We are dealing here with a crook, fraudster, a kidnapper, money launderer, a gangster. When criminals are victims of a crime, they do not open criminal cases; they hunt for the thieves themselves.

Malema, who spoke the longest among the group opposition leaders, told supporters that the acting Public Protector should release the latest information in the report so MPs could use it to hold Ramaphosa accountable.

“In 30 days, you were supposed to release the parts of the report which are ready. Say, ‘It is not a complete report, but I will return and give you the full report.’ You have violated the law. The report must be released with immediate effect.”

Despite the opposition saying Gcaleka had to conclude her investigation in 30 days, the Public Protector Act states that she could exceed this timeframe if she gave reasons.

Malema said: “We do not want answers. We want a report. The report will give us the answers of everyone: the police commissioner, the protector, and the pilot who flew the helicopter without a case number. Every police officer involved was supposed to be interviewed by everyone.”

READ | ANC does not want to ‘interfere’ with investigations into ‘Rama-Phala Phala’

He said the latest information released, based on a story by News24, which revealed that Ramaphosa told Gcaleka that a Sudanese businessman had delivered the stolen money ostensibly in exchange for several buffalo, showed the president was lying.

Other political party leaders present took similar approaches in their attacks on Ramaphosa.

 

Cope leader Willie Madisha said: “We are tired because you (Gcaleka) are protecting thieves instead of dealing with this problem we are faced with. You should have dealt with this problem a long time ago. We are extremely angry. Ramaphosa and the whole ANC must go away because they are not the people who are supposed to lead our country. They are thieves.”

UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa claimed several ANC members were keen on joining the opposition on the Phala Phala matter, but the ANC did not believe in a democracy.

He said Ramaphosa had to be held to the same standard as former president Jacob Zuma.

“President Ramaphosa lied on every platform. The strangest thing is that even in the media, those who were willing to hold the bar high in the years of president Zuma are now deciding to put the bar of accountability at ankle level. The PP needs to release the report with immediate effect. As Parliament, we will ensure he steps aside.”

ACDP MP Wayne Thring said Ramaphosa had sworn on the bible that he would be ethical but failed to commit to his oath of office.

“When a president takes an oath of office and swears to the bible that he will uphold the Constitution. When he says he will be honest, be a man of integrity and be accountable, and then refuses and stops and says he does not want to be held to account, we will say: we will hold you to account,” Thring said.