Cape Town – National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is studying a legal opinion on the appointment of Professor Richard Calland as a member of the panel that will consider whether President Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer on the Phala Phala farmgate scandal.
The appointment of Calland, who is a public law professor and political commentator, sparked an outcry from some parties, which accused him of biases towards Ramaphosa.
Briefing the programme committee on Thursday, Mapisa-Nqakula said when parties were asked to make nominations, Parliament received 17 names.
“I looked into the names. Before that process I requested Parliament to check the availability of all those nominated to serve on the panel.
“Regrettable, quite a number of people you nominated were not available to serve on the panel, either because people had prior commitments and others were simply not available and had programmes planned during this time,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula also said Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had advised that former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo and former Gauteng division judge Thokozile Masipa could serve on the panel.
Ngcobo, Masipa and Calland were then appointed to the three-member panel of eminent, fit and proper persons with legal backgrounds to look at whether there was any case for an investigation by an ad hoc committee of Parliament.
However, Mapisa-Nqakula said she received letters from the EFF and the DA expressing their discomfort about the appointment of Calland.
She also received another letter from the GOOD party, which had motivated Calland, motivating his continued serving on the panel.
In considering the EFF and DA objections, Mapisa-Nqakula said she has subjected the matter to legal scrutiny.
“I requested to be given legal advice as to how to handle such a matter. By the time all these matters did arise, I had appointed Professor Calland and I had even written to inform him about it,” she said.
She said she received the legal opinion on Wednesday.
“I am now studying that opinion and within the next 24 hours or so, you will hear what the way forward will be,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula stated that she was doing something about the objections.
“I had to make sure everything is done by the book in terms of the law. Once I complete studying the legal opinion, I will take a decision on the matter,” she added.
The panel, which has yet to start its work, will have 30 days to perform the preliminary assessment of the motion and report back to Mapisa-Nqakula.
It is a sequel to the motion tabled by ATM leader Vuyo Zungula after former State Security Agency head Arthur Fraser opened a case.
Fraser alleged in an affidavit that Ramaphosa committed serious crimes that included bribery, money laundering, kidnapping, breaching of customs and excise laws, breaching SARS regulations, breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and defeating the ends of justice, among others.