By Staff Reporters

With each passing day, it seems President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bucket of political uprightness gets a new hole and observers opine it may run dry anytime now.

The list of blunders is perforating his reputation to a point where sceptics now believe his political career has reached a dead end.

In a space of a week, the president has had to deal with at least four matters that chipped away his credibility.

In the latest debacle, the Constitutional Court threw out Ramaphosa’s bid to place on judicial review retired  Justice Sandile Ngcobo’s independent panel’s report into the president’s Phala-Phala farm robbery. 

The highest court in the land said the president failed to make a case for exclusive jurisdiction or direct access.

In November last year, the three persons Section 89 independent panel comprising of Justice Ngcobo, Thokozile Masipa, a former judge of the Gauteng High Court and Advocate Mahlape Sello, a senior Advocate with the Johannesburg Bar, found that Ramaphosa had a case to answer.

The panel found that the president may have violated sections 96(2)(a) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities (PRECCA) Act concerning a robbery at his Phala Phala game farm in 2020.

This meant the president may have seriously violated the law for his failure to report the burglary at his farm. He also broke the law by undertaking paid work while he was a member of the cabinet.

Ramaphosa admitted publicly that the money was from a sale of Ankola cattle.  

This verdict of the panel threatened Ramaphosa’s re-election as president at the ANC’s elective conference held in December. With these findings, his exit from office appeared imminent.

He hastily applied for leave for the con court to allow him to bring the matter directly in the interests of justice in terms of section 167(6)(a) of the Constitution and Rule 18 of the court’s rules.

This was part of several efforts to ensure that he did not face impeachment. The other was to ensure his support in parliament where the report was to be tabled for further action. It was rejected. A majority of members of parliament, 214, of the 400 members in parliament voted for the report to be rejected.

Parliament rejected the report partly because of the ANC majority but also as a result of the president’s action to take the matter to review.

With this ruling, the con court has opened president Ramaphosa up for a new battle in parliament.

Opposition leaders are already baying for the president’s blood. The DA’s Steenhuisen and EFF’s Julius Malema are leading the pack, followed very enthusiastically by the ATM the – first complainants.

Steenhuisen has called for the establishment of parliament’s ad hoc committee that must investigate details of the panel’s report. The party has been pushing for an ad hoc committee to probe the Phala Phala saga for months.

“An ad hoc committee is the route that Parliament should have followed when this scandal first broke.  It is highly irresponsible conduct by the President to bat the Phala Phala scandal between Parliament and the courts, all in an attempt to evade difficult questions and full transparency and accountability. 

“Ramaphosa had launched this court application to set aside the Section 89 report in a desperate attempt to save his political skin. Now that this attempt has been unanimously dismissed by the highest court in the land, it is time for the president to finally tell the full truth about Phala Phala,” reads the Steenhuisen media statement.

The EFF spared no punches in its statement. It labelled the president’s court bid to approach the Constitutional Court as “senseless” and “irrational.” It too has called for the ad hoc committee.

A few days ahead of the court’s damning ruling, in yet another court battle, the president wilted once again. This time it was about the state of disaster he declared in his state of the nation address last month. He is opposing 19 litigants, including several opposition parties.

A  public outcry erupted after Ramaphosa was quoted as saying he was not legally required to provide electricity to citizens and that the responsibility lay with municipal structures. 

It was widely reported that the president had, in court papers, said that his action since load shedding “did not constitute a dereliction of duty on his part or that of the national government as the law places the responsibility for electricity provision on municipalities”

In an attempt to “clear the air,” spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the statement in the affidavit was misrepresented and related to the constitutional powers and responsibilities of the president and other government bodies.

“It seeks to clarify important legal issues about what is contained in and what is required by the constitution. This statement does not in any way diminish the commitment of President Ramaphosa and this government to end load-shedding as a matter of urgency.”

As all this unfolded, the president remained in the media spotlight for other wrong reasons. He is still to explain the failure to fill vacancies in his cabinet. At least two vacancies were by the resignation of Deputy President David Mabuza and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula who was elected the General Secretary of the ANC in December.

As part of this inaction, the country’s public broadcaster is still without a board four months after recommendations were submitted to him. The president is facing another court battle over this matter brought by an NGO Media Monitory.

The besieged president has only joined the chorus of his ruling ANC top brass who are calling for the former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to lay criminal charges. This after de Ruyter made damning corruption allegations against some ministers.

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