Release Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala answers, IRR urges Public Protector

9 December 2022 - The IRR has urged Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka to release the answers that President Cyril Ramaphosa gave to the famous “31 Phala Phala questions” that Public Protector Bhusisiwe Mkhwebane put to the President two days before he suspended her on June 9, 2022.

The IRR has urged Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka to release the answers that President Cyril Ramaphosa gave to the famous “31 Phala Phala questions” that Public Protector Bhusisiwe Mkhwebane put to the President two days before he suspended her on June 9, 2022.

Ramaphosa has subsequently been found to have “a case to answer” on the topic of those 31 questions by a Parliamentary Independent Panel chaired by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo. But his answers remain hidden from the public eye by the Public Protector’s office.

The National Assembly is scheduled to vote on 13 December on whether to commence proceedings that would require President Ramaphosa to answer to Parliament on the Phala Phala case relating to the 31 questions. The Acting Public Protector is all that is stopping MPs from knowing what Ramaphosa’s answers were to the “31 questions” before they make the decision.

When Ramaphosa answered these questions 140 days ago, he was instructed by the Office of the Acting Public Protector to keep these answers hidden from the public eye. He was told that if the public knew his answers to the questions this could “jeopardize” the investigation into Phala Phala.

However, the suspended Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, submitted that the answers must be published. In addition, Ramaphosa submitted that he had “no objection” to the answers going public, a point that his legal team repeatedly pointed out. It is the Acting Public Protector’s office and nothing else that is keeping those answers away from the public.

Since Ramaphosa gave his 31 answers 140 days ago, any risk of jeopardy that may have accompanied their disclosure to the public has practically vanished. The questions were leaked to the press, which would have tipped off potentially inculpated persons and witnesses to the concomitant answers, by July. In addition, the President has given his version of events on Phala Phala, at great length, in response to the Ngcobo Panel and to the Constitutional Court.

At this stage, the 31 answers can either echo the President’s already public story or contradict it, but insofar as the President’s disclosure of his own version of the Phala Phala scandal ever posed a risk of ‘jeopardizing the investigation’ that buffalo has very much bolted.

Moreover, the public interest in revealing those answers has radically increased. MPs must be able to look at those answers to see if they corroborate, or deviate from, later versions of events that Ramaphosa has produced. MPs must also be allowed to scrutinize the details they contain in making up their minds about whether to proceed in holding Ramaphosa to account under Section 89 of the Constitution, which pertains to impeachment, arguably the most serious oversight function of Parliament.

No detail can be withheld from the nation’s democratic representatives as they prepare to make the fateful choice to go forward with Section 89 proceedings, or not. Advocate Gcaleka has been requested to protect the public by sharing the 31 answers by no later than noon on Monday 12 December, so that MPs may be saved from having to exercise their highest duty of accountability blinded in one eye.

 

* Afrikaans-language media are requested to retain the abbreviation ‘IRR’, rather than using ‘IRV’.

Media contact: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za   

Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za 

Sinalo Thuku, Tel: 073 932 8506 Email: sinalo@irr.org.za

 

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