The ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to meet today to decide the fate of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the continued fallout over the Phala Phala scandal leaves the party deeply divided.
Ramaphosa yesterday told the media gathered at Nasrec for the party’s National Working Committee meeting (NWC) that he would leave his fate to the NEC, just days after speculation mounted that he would resign.
“It’s ANC culture to not be present when NWC discusses you,” as he explained that he had been excused from the NWC meeting as it was discussing the Phala Phala matter.
He announced that he would attend the national executive committee meeting taking place today.
On Saturday, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said the president would not resign and was considering taking the Section 89 panel report on review, saying the president believed that the report was flawed and must be challenged in a court of law.
“The president is seriously considering taking the S89 panel report on review. It may be in the long-term interest and sustainability of our constitutional democracy, well beyond the Ramaphosa presidency, that such a clearly flawed report is challenged.”
Those who have called on Ramaphosa to resign point to the damning findings of the Section 89 independent panel, which found prima facie evidence that he may have violated the Constitution by hoarding a large sum of foreign currency and trying to cover up the theft.
Ramaphosa’s critics have charged that he has brought the party into disrepute and any attempt to protect him could harm the party’s chances at the 2024 national general elections.
Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was one of the first to call on Ramaphosa to step aside while the investigation is carried out.
“I think the president has to step aside now and answer to the case,” she said during an interview.
Ramaphosa’s closest allies have targeted retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo and the rest of his panel, attacking their integrity and credibility.
Ngcobo, perhaps in anticipation of the fallout from the report, on Wednesday when doing a public handover responded to criticism that the panel was not impartial when coming to its conclusion and recommendations.
“Our job was to interrogate information that members of the National Assembly saw fit to present to us. It was not our job to call whoever you wanted us to call. This volume is based on their (NA) rules,” Ngcobo said.
Yet, Ngcobo and the panel have come in for criticism. The president may not have communicated with the nation but he has been in earnest discussion with his closest allies in the ANC and they have reportedly advised him to fight the charges and the possibility of an Impeachment Committee when Parliament has its special sitting tomorrow.
Former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, who acknowledged that Ramaphosa had consulted with him over the issue, said in an interview he was entitled to consult whomever he wanted.
“He is entitled to consult with his lawyers and many other advisers like myself if he wants to. As a lawyer, I hold Justice Ngcobo in high regard and all members of his panel. I respect them, but I reserve the right to differ from them. The report is deeply flawed. Paragraph 69 of the report makes it clear that the report is based on hearsay evidence throughout,” Phosa said.
The panel was formed after the ATM submitted a motion of no confidence against Ramaphosa. ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said Ramaphosa’s continued stay in office could cause major interference in the investigations against him and the nation was polarised because of only one man.
“He didn’t want to resign but sent out a rumour as if he was being persuaded not to resign so that as usual he can transfer accountability to others. His handlers also don’t want him to resign because they don’t know if the successor will continue doing the dirty job for them,” Zungula said.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said any inclination that Ramaphosa was poised to resign was a ruse that was used to garner sympathy for the president and to deter from the serious charges emerging from the panel’s report.
“Democracy can’t be held hostage by one person. There may be a weakness in the judgment, as in any court decision, but there are things in the report that you cannot run away from.”