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Thursday, 08 February 2024 19:33

EFF turns to ConCourt to challenge National Assembly vote on Phala Phala panel report.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has approached Constitutional Court, seeking direct access to challenge a contentious parliamentary decision not adopt the Section 89 independent panel report into Phala Phala in December 2022. 

The report found there was a prima facie case that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have violated his oath of office in his actions regarding the burglary at his Limpopo game farm.

However, the report was not adopted by Parliament after the African National Congress (ANC) used its majority in the National Assembly to vote against it.

The EFF wants the court to declare the decision irrational and unlawful.

In their application to the apex court, the EFF says this is a matter grounded in principles of accountability and transparency as stated in the Constitution.

The party cites Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's warning that MPs should not be subjected to bullying by their political parties to vote for wrong decisions simply because they're toeing the party line.

It's clear legal obligations, the ANC has, once again, and in defiance of what the Chief Justice identified in the State Capture Report, used its majority to politically protect a sitting president regardless of the legal merits of the case he must answer," reads affidavit.

"Importantly, and especially for this court to bear in mind, the Panel reached these prima facie conclusions after considering, analysing, and evaluating the evidence before them.

"Following this exercise, the Panel reached the conclusion that the grounds listed in Section 89(1) of the Constitution had been met, and the President does have a prima facie case to answer."

Zondo wrote in his report: "It is unacceptable for a minister or fellow party members to castigate a member of parliament for attempting to hold a minister [of a sitting president] to account or for asking difficult questions of persons regarded as comrades or deployers of the same party."

"It is inappropriate for a party caucus to resolve not to permit or discourage conduct amounting to legitimate parliamentary oversight over the executive."

The party argues that the judges at the apex court must look into the its application through these lenses.

The Phala Phala matter came to the fore when former spy boss Arthur Fraser alleged earlier in 2022 that Ramaphosa was involved in illegal activities surrounding a burglary at his farm. He claimed Ramaphosa had breached the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and that large sums of US dollars were removed from the Limpopo farm by burglars.

The Phala Phala incident has cast a long shadow over Ramaphosa's presidency, with allegations of money laundering and cover-ups dogging his administration.

The independent panel's report has only served to fuel the controversy, with the President deciding against pursuing a legal review of the report following the National Assembly's decision.

As the country watches with bated breath, the Constitutional Court's ruling on the EFF's application could have far-reaching implications for Ramaphosa's political future and the country's democratic institutions.