Mapisa-Nqakula hits back at opposition over Phala Phala panel

Thabo Mokone Parliamentary editor
Richard Calland, political analyst and associate professor of public law at the University of Cape Town.
calland Richard Calland, political analyst and associate professor of public law at the University of Cape Town.

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has hit back at opposition parties over their objection to the appointment of UCT law professor Richard Calland to a three-member panel to determine if President Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer before parliament on Phala Phala.

Mapisa-Nqakula lashed out at opposition parties on Thursday during a meeting of the programming committee after they asked to object to Calland’s appointment.

Calland, with retired high court judge Thokozile Masipa and retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo as chair, were appointed last week to determine if there’s prima facie evidence against Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala saga before parliament decides whether to start impeachment proceedings in terms of section 89 of the constitution.

The DA and the EFF are opposed to Calland's appointment, arguing he has shown demonstrable bias in favour of Ramaphosa through his published opinion pieces.

During Thursday’s meeting, Mapisa-Nqakula said questions about Calland’s integrity were ill-informed.

Some parties accused Mapisa-Nqakula’s office of not conducting due diligence on the candidacy of Calland.

She will formally respond to the parties after considering a legal opinion she received this week.

“If there’s anything I’m very upset about, [it] is that parties could not do the very basics of things, which they ought to have done, which is that when you nominate a person to serve on a panel such as this, you would have gone to such as person and say, 'We’ve nominated you and parliament may contact you, will you please indicate availability,' or even check with the person before you nominated,” she said.

Last week it emerged that at least eight of the 17 people nominated mainly by opposition parties to serve on the panel, including former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, his former deputy Dikgang Moseneke and other top legal minds had declined nomination.

“It was very disappointing to find that a list of 17 people would end up with eight people who are not available to serve on the panel, but despite that I’m confident the three candidates I chose from the list of available nominees is a credible one.

“In view of that, I will be making a pronouncement, perhaps even no later than tomorrow [Friday], about what we are going to do.”

ANC MPs opposed a move by the DA for parliament to debate an urgent motion on the establishment of a Phala Phala ad hoc committee.

DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube wanted to replace a DA motion on land invasion, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, with one proposing a Phala Phala ad hoc committee.

ANC MPs rejected the DA’s “smuggling in” of the motion, saying preparations had been made for the land invasion debate, among others.

Mapisa-Nqakula ruled that the two DA motions be deferred until next week for a decision.


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