Public protector in hot water for her CR17 report
Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka found that president Cyril Ramaphosa had no case to answer for his involvement in the alleged stashing of illegal US dollars amounting to at least R8-million inside a sofa at his Phala Phala game farm in Limpopo.
The funds were allegedly stolen in February 2020 after a break-in.
Others put the figure at over R60-million and the allegations have been before the Hawks since June last year.
While the ATM, which was among the complainants that received the draft report from Gcaleka acknowledged the findings were not yet final, the party said it hoped to assist her “close the obvious gaps and correct the errors of law that we have identified”.
“Failure to do so will further fuel the suspicion that the Office of the Public Protector has subjected itself to the mission to defend president Ramaphosa at all costs, even at the expense of the reputation of this august Chapter Nine institution, established to protect the public against the abuse of power by the powerful,” said party president Vuyo Zungula. Zungula said that, unlike Gcaleka, the independent parliamentary panel led by retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, retired judge Thokozile Masipa, and advocate Mahlape Sello SC had acted without fear, favour, and prejudice in finding that Ramaphosa had a case to answer.
The panel found in December last year that Ramaphosa may have committed a serious violation of the Constitution and anti-corruption laws, as well as two counts of serious misconduct. No obstacle, said Zungula, was standing in the way of Gcaleka studying the Ngcobo report to benefit from the insights of experts in the field of law, whose combined legal experience was probably no less than a century.
He said that the question of whether Ramaphosa declared his interests in parliament was “a red herring and a deliberate obfuscation of issues”.
He said Gcaleka’s “narrow and self-serving” interpretation of paid work would mean that “a doctor or advocate in private practice, deriving not a salary, but profit from his or her fulltime practice, could also dabble as president or cabinet minister [but] nothing could be more absurd”.
“This is tantamount to denying that a person flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town purely because the person was not in the pilot seat.”
He said available evidence showed that Ramaphosa was actively involved in running the game farm business. He had identified the buffaloes that should be sold, advised potential buyers, and set the price.
Zungula suggested that Gcaleka treated Ramaphosa with kid gloves, citing that on June 17 last year, the president requested an extension to respond to suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s questions but a day later he was busy trading game and livestock at an auction at his Phala Phala farm.
He said Ramaphosa had misled the nation when in 2014, on assuming office as deputy president, he said all his business interests would be managed by a blind trust.
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