Before the debate of the Section 89 Independent Panel report held in Parliament yesterday, a request for the vote on the report to be held in secret, which came from Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the African Transformation Movement, was denied by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Ms Mapisa-Nqakula declined the request on the basis of a decision taken by the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) in a previous meeting. The Speaker also insisted on a manual roll call. The EFF then proposed a division of the House on the voting procedure to test the feeling of Members of the House. The Speaker ruled that the division could be considered at the end of the debate.

The independent panel was established in accordance with Rule 129A-Q to conduct a preliminary enquiry relating to a motion proposing an enquiry in terms of Section 89 of Constitution.

 The first speaker in the debate, Chief Whip of the ANC, Ms Pemmy Majodina, said the ANC respects the independent panel’s report, although it lacks sufficient evidence. For this reason, the ANC believes there is no need to rush the report’s adoption, particularly as eight institutions – the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Public Protector are still investigating the matter. Thus, the ANC does not support the report.

Also registering that it did not support the report, the Congress of the People (COPE) highlighted the report’s lack of sufficient evidence. Debating on behalf of COPE, Mr Willie Madisha said the panel lacks the tools to establish what really happened. The report “has no legs”, he said.

The National Freedom Party (NFP) supported the report’s adoption, but argued that further steps, such as the establishment of an impeachment committee, should depend on the results of the Constitutional Court’s review of the report. The NFP argued that President Cyril Ramaphosa enjoys the same rights as any other South Africa to interdict the NA from going ahead with the report, as it is under review by the ConCourt.

Also participating in the debate, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, said the panel has “set the bar too low to impeach the President”. Evidence must be presented before the House before the report can be adopted. Nonetheless, this debate is a good exercise in holding the President accountable and investigations on the matter are still under way, he said.

The Al Jamaal party said it just noted the report and is waiting for the findings of the investigations in the Phala Phala matter that are still underway. Thus far, the party believes there is currently no evidence that the President violated the Constitution.

Once voting had been complete, it was established that 214 NA Members voted against the adoption independent panel’s report while 148 voted for the adoption. The Chief Whip of the EFF, Mr Floyd Shivambu, told the Speaker that the EFF will subject the system to judicial review to safeguard the integrity of the process.

Mava Lukani
14 December 2022