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MABINE SEABE: ‘Hands off Ramaphosa’ means ‘hands off accountability’

OPINION

The notion that President Cyril Ramaphosa is untouchable because he is a nice guy is a dangerous one. It is akin to the nine wasted years under President Jacob Zuma, who was illegally elevated above accountability and constitutionalism because he was popular – in this regard he was aided and abetted by the ‘Hands off Zuma’ campaign and the ANC parliamentary caucus, which Ramaphosa was actively part of.

If we are to apply the selective application of laws, we are subscribing to the rule of man, not the rule of law, which in entrenched in our Constitution. Once again, this is a dangerous path to meander. Once we go down this road because we like someone and their corruption is a little more palatable, we might as well suspend all rationale and the laws of South Africa.

Ramaphosa and his campaign team have not disputed the contents of the affidavit presented by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, which alleges that Ramaphosa received a R500,000 ‘donation’ from the nefarious Bosasa boss Gavin Watson. It is also common cause that Ramaphosa, in his initial submission to the National Assembly, “deliberately misled” Parliament. These are the facts, which should not hover over a sitting head of state. These are serious matters, which cannot be overlooked.

“But the Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for the removal of the current Public Protector,” some of the commentariat, voters and the like quip. Yes, we are, because Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, as confirmed by a Constitutional Court ruling, isn’t fit to occupy an office as important as this Chapter Nine body. We have been consistent in our position about Mkhwebane, and we were alone in raising red flags about her character, credibility and suitability for office.

That said, the law dictates that violations of the Executive Ethics Code must be reported to the Public Protector, not the SAPS, not the NPA, not the SIU, nor any other body. We were therefore left with no option but to approach the Office of the Public Protector to probe this matter.

There is recourse should one find reasonable fault with a report of the Public Protector; that is why we do not oppose Ramaphosa’s court challenge, as it is the correct path to follow in terms of the law. We will also abide by the court’s decision in this matter.

As the DA we are standing up for the rule of law and accountability. This has nothing to do with the person who occupies the Office of the Public Protector or the Union Buildings, it has everything to do with upholding the Constitution as our supreme law and holding those in power accountable.

The courts of this land have ruled that a report of the Public Protector, its findings and remedial action are binding; equally they have ruled that Parliament can interrogate a report of the Public Protector in order to ascertain that all that needs to be done has been done. Hence, Maimane has called for the establishment of a Parliamentary ad hoc committee to study the report, and where appropriate, for Members of Parliament in the National Assembly, who elected the President, to take action. It’s about the rule of law and accountability.

As the cliché goes, evil prevails when good women and men do nothing. We will not look the other way because Ramaphosa is perceived to be a nice guy. Maimane would be in dereliction of his oath of office as a member of Parliament if he did nothing and said nothing.

Our work as the DA of building a better South Africa will not always be easy, because the villains aren’t always as obvious as Jacob Zuma, Dudu Myeni, Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, or Ramaphosa’s second-in-command David ‘DD’ Mabuza.

It’s not comfortable to see those we believe in to show deep flaws, especially given the last ten years, which were traumatic for all South Africans. Perhaps the last decade has forced us, even subconsciously, to side with the better devil.

Our work as the DA is to fix what is broken, even if there is resistance to charting a path towards a better South Africa.

Mabine Seabe is the DA’s acting executive director of communications.

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