Cape Town – The ANC on Thursday blocked the debate sponsored by the DA for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the break-in and theft at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.
However, its victory was short-lived as the motion will now be rescheduled for next week, the same week Ramaphosa returns to the National Assembly to answer outstanding questions abandoned in an earlier, chaotic session.
This comes after the DA altered its initial motion on the crisis of illegal land invasions with a draft motion on Phala Phala, which the governing party deemed as having been “sneaked through the window”.
DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said the party initially submitted a motion, and then wrote to Parliament last Friday asking to replace it with another.
“It is well within our rights.
The motion we want to discuss is about the establishment of an ad hoc committee in so far as the investigation relating to the Phala Phala matter is concerned,” Gwarube said.
She told the programme committee that Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula did not disallow the motion in terms of the rules, and that it was taken to the chief whips forum meeting on Tuesday.
“It makes no sense to us why our motion cannot be on the order paper for debate this afternoon,” Gwarube said.
However, ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the matter was smuggled into the chief whips’ forum three days ago, after subject matter for discussion had already been submitted last week.
“Even if rules allow for that, we know there is a process under way. The panel will assess whether or not there is prima facie evidence for an ad hoc committee to be established,” she said.
“What we see is that the DA is trying to pre-empt those processes and give other parties a short time to prepare for this debate,” she said.
Dlakude threatened to withdraw the order paper authorising the motion. “We signed based on the initial motion, not this one. They tried to sneak it through the window,” she said.
But IFP chief whip Narend Singh said they were presented on Tuesday with a draft programme containing a draft resolution rather than a subject for discussion.
“It makes it awkward for us in terms of preparing ourselves,” Singh said.
EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said poor planning should not affect MPs.
She noted that there was never any dissenting view to what the DA submitted before the chief whips forum.
ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said parties had prepared for the Phala Phala matter and researched for the debate accordingly.
“Allow the DA motion to be debated today in line with their wishes. What the DA is proposing is not an impeachment motion,” Zungula said.
But Al-Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks said there could be no multiple processes on the possible impeachment and removal of the president.
“We have put up a panel to advise Parliament. Parties will have the opportunity to put their position before the panel. We should allow the panel to proceed unimpeded and not try to come with multiple processes,” Hendricks said.
ACDP’s Steve Swart said: “We believe that the rules allow the DA to replace a mini plenary debate and the debate on Phala Phala should continue.”
Mapisa-Nqakula ordered a slot be found to allow for a discussion on the DA motion next week.
“The motion should not address issues which are yet to be thrashed out by the panel. From what I have seen, it talks to a different matter altogether,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“I hope in the course of discussions, the discussion will not venture into raising matters which are still a subject of this preliminary inquiry by the panel, for the purpose of making a determination whether the matter should be investigated further or not,” she said.