The outcome of the Section 89 independent panel’s report released on Wednesday, is that President Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer when it comes to alleged contraventions of not only the Constitution, but also the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 2004 (Precca) in relation to the Phala Phala matter. The findings of the report have grave implications for the president’s ability to effectively lead the country and maintain the public trust emerging from his administration’s strong anti-corruption agenda.

Corruption Watch therefore urges Parliament and other institutions with oversight over democratic processes, which are in possession of evidence, to address the matter swiftly and as a matter of priority, as part of their commitment to the principle of accountability. There is no room for unnecessary delays by either implicated parties or regulatory and law enforcement bodies, that could potentially derail the process and disrupt the momentum.

“In a country beset by corruption scandals over a protracted period of time that have eroded institutions, hollowed out the economy and seriously impacted service delivery, South Africans deserve answers,” says Karam Singh, executive director of Corruption Watch.  “For a president to be charged with such serious violations of the laws of the land is yet another crisis for a country already struggling to overcome a slew of challenges, many of them related to corruption.  It is imperative that the democratic process is allowed to unfold, and that no-one is allowed to act with impunity.”

In light of this developing story, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the steps that led us to this unprecedented moment. It was back in 2018 that, following the earlier Constitutional Court judgment that so compelled it, the National Assembly established and adopted rules to give effect to Section 89 of the Constitution on the steps related to the removal of the president, and guidelines for impeachment proceedings. That represented an important milestone in safeguarding our democracy, and ensuring that such processes are robust and follow the rule of law.

“We are at a critical point in our democracy, where the rule of law that holds all people accountable must be seen to be in effect,” says Singh. “We do not have a stellar record of members of the executive being held to account for their actions, and there is far too much evidence of people acting with impunity. It is supremely important that the president, who holds the highest office in the land, is held to the same standards and processes as everyone else.”

Corruption Watch acknowledges and commends the professional conduct of the independent panel, led by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, and the manner and swiftness in which they executed their mandate as regards the delivery of this unprecedented undertaking. 

“In the end, if the president does choose to resign, his resignation should be in the name of accountability and democratic governance principles,” concludes Singh.

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