Last minute cancellation of his anticipated address angers parties and the nation.
SOME opposition leaders, who have been vocal critics of the president since the Phala Phala scandal came to light in June, reacted angrily at the last-minute postponement of the president’s address which was scheduled for Thursday night.
Vuyo Zungula, the president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) said: “We are angry that the president has again taken us as citizens for granted by failing to resign, which for many has been long overdue. For us the president was supposed to step down immediately after his Phala Phala issue was brought to light. He is applying delay tactics here and it undermines the citizens.”
The president again failed on Thursday night to take the nation into his confidence after his last-minute cancellation of the address his office had announced earlier.
He was supposed to address the nation at 8pm but instead his spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said he was no longer able to speak to the nation and promised to speak soon, on a date yet to be announced.
Also reacting to the cancellation, Professor Sipho Seepe said he suspected that the president was still recovering from shock since he probably never expected the Section 89 panel outcome. The president has been under pressure from all corners of the country to voluntarily resign to save the presidency and the image of the country from further reputational damage.
The call, which was renewed by the Section 89 panel report which found that he has a case to answer, came from political analysts, civil society groups, opposition parties as well as senior ANC members of the party.
Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said he had been calling on Ramaphosa to resign not because he hated him but because he would have left with some degree of credibility if he had resigned soon after the Phala Phala affair had erupted.
Mngomezulu said there were those who would have regarded him as a hero for voluntarily stepping aside.
Two of his vocal critics, Carl Niehaus and Tony Yengeni, speaking on SABC on Thursday, said they were not expecting anything except a resignation from the president.
Yengeni said the cloud over the president’s head was a problem for the party since he was the face of the organisation, arguing that by continuing as the party leader, he was compromising it.
Niehaus said Ramaphosa had to go and should not be a candidate at the party’s 55th elective conference for any position. KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo, who jumped to the president’s defence when he was attacked by former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma last month, added his voice to the calls for Ramaphosa to “do the honourable thing”.
Speaking to the SABC on Thursday afternoon Mtolo said he had no doubt that if it was Nelson Mandela he would have long since tendered his resignation.
Opposition parties also weighed in, calling for the president to fall on his sword.
The DA went further and said it would put a motion for the dissolution of Parliament so that there would be an early election for the people to participate in choosing a new president. In a televised address DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party would not want Deputy President David Mabuza to be the next president so his party wanted a fresh election.
EFF national spokesperson LeighAnn Mathys said her party had always been clear that the president had to go, adding if he did not resign the EFF would file a motion of no confidence in Parliament to force him to go.
The IFP also issued a statement saying that after studying the Section 89 panel report the party welcomed it and its recommendations and would support the adoption of it and the establishment of the impeachment committee.
The prima facie evidence is compelling, therefore the IFP would have voted in support of the adoption as well support for the establishment of an impeachment committee, the party said.
The Patriotic Alliance also added its voice, with its deputy president, Kenny Kunene, posting a video on social media singing: The president must go!
Rumours that Ramaphosa was going to resign started spreading when his office postponed several public engagements he was supposed to undertake including the state visit by Venezuela’s president on Tuesday and meeting new Lesotho Prime Minister Sam Matekane. Ramaphosa was also supposed to appear before the National Council of Provinces on Thursday. The party also postponed its special national executive committee (NEC) meeting scheduled on Thursday night.
On Thursday night, only the national working committee met which the president and his top five are members of, but it was not clear whether he attended.
In terms of the Constitution, if the president resigns, Parliament would vote for a new president. In its meeting on Friday the NEC would discuss the matter and probably take a decision to recall him or defer the matter to the conference.
On Wednesday, retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo’s three-member Independent Section 89 panel found that Ramaphosa had violated his oath of office in handling the break-in and theft of a huge amount of money in US dollars at his game farm.
The report states: “In light of all the information placed before the panel, we conclude that this information discloses, prima facie, that the president may have committed:
“A serious violation of sections 96(2) (a).
“A serious violation of section 34(1) of Precca (Prevention of Combating of Corrupt Activities Act).
“This act compels everyone to report crime which the president failed to do when there was burglary on his farm.
“A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by acting in a way that is inconsistent with his office.
“A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business of the Constitution.
“The country’s president was not allowed to do any other paid work.”