Defiant Ramaphosa refuses to quit

Advertisement

South Africa’s President has been under fire since June, when a former spy boss filed a complaint alleging that Ramaphosa had hidden a February 2020 burglary at his farm where thieves found $4 million hidden in furniture…reports Asian Lite News

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will not step down despite a parliamentary report this week into the alleged cover-up of a cash burglary at one of his farms, his spokesman said Saturday.

“President Ramaphosa is not resigning based on a flawed report, neither is he stepping aside,” Vincent Magwenya said.

Ramaphosa has been under fire since June, when a former spy boss filed a complaint with the police alleging that the president had hidden a February 2020 burglary at his farm in northeastern South Africa from the authorities. He allegedly organised for the burglars to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.

Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing. But the scandal, complete with details of more than half a million dollars in cash being hidden under sofa cushions, has come at the worst possible moment for him.

On December 16, Ramaphosa contests elections for the ANC presidency — a position that also holds the key to staying on as national president.

“The president has taken to heart the unequivocal message coming from the branches of the governing party who have nominated him to avail himself for a second term of the leadership of the ANC,” Magwenya said.

“The president understands that message to mean he must continue with both the state and economic reforms,” he added.

“The president has with humility and with great care and commitment accepted that call to continue being of service to his organisation the ANC and to the people of South Africa.”

How it all started

Everything changed for Ramaphosa when South Africa’s former spy chief, Arthur Fraser, walked into a police station in June and accused him of money laundering, corruption and covering up a large theft of cash.

In a sworn statement, Fraser said thieves had raided Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm in February 2020, found at least $4 million in foreign cash hidden in furniture, and made off with the money.

Police opened a criminal investigation into the case after Fraser’s statement, which raised questions about how Ramaphosa had acquired so much cash and whether he declared it. The media dubbed it the “farmgate” scandal.

Ramaphosa said there had been a break-in and that a much smaller amount of cash – proceeds from the sale of game – had gone. He denied covering up the crime, saying he was away when it happened and that he reported it when he got the details.

Fraser’s sworn statement, which included security video footage and photos, said the gang got in via a perimeter fence, ransacked then house and spent some of their haul on new vehicles.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.(Photo: twitter.com/PresidencyZA)

Ramifications

The affair has been a huge embarrassment for Ramaphosa who has repeatedly spoken about taking a tough line on graft.

He faced down a rival faction from his own party in July who were trying to scrap a rule that anyone charged with corruption or other crimes must step down while they are being investigated.

He also promised in October to tackle graft with tougher procurement rules and better oversight of state-owned firms, after an inquiry highlighted high-level graft under Zuma.

The inquiry

On the back of Fraser’s affidavit, a small parliamentary opposition party, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), lodged a motion in parliament asking to institute a so-called Section 89 inquiry into Ramaphosa’s fitness to stand office.

Used for the first time since being adopted by parliament in 2018, the Section 89 inquiry sets out a process to impeach a sitting president of South Africa, if evidence emerges of wrongdoing.

The panel’s recommendations, which are not binding on lawmakers, are the first step in a lengthy process that could eventually lead to Ramaphosa’s impeachment.

ALSO READ: UK, South Africa to tackle climate change

[mc4wp_form id=""]