South Africa

Ramaphosa cleared of Phala Phala wrongdoing

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been cleared of wrongdoing by the nation’s graft ombudsman following a probe into the theft of foreign exchange at his farm.

“There is no evidence that the president has an active involvement in paid work, and there is no basis to conclude that he contravened the Executive Ethics Code,” acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka told reporters in Pretoria on Friday.

“It means he was not exposed to the risk of a conflict of interest.”

The outcome of the Public Protector’s investigation comes months after a parliamentary panel on the matter found that Ramaphosa may have breached the constitution in the handling of the burglary of foreign currency stashed in a sofa at his Phala Phala game farm. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The furore over the robbery at his farm first erupted a year ago when Arthur Fraser, the former head of South Africa’s national spy agency, laid charges against Ramaphosa, alleging that he sought to cover up the 2020 theft, in which at least $580,000 of cash was stolen.

The scandal raised concerns that Ramaphosa may need to quit as president and step aside as leader of the governing African National Congress if found guilty of bringing the organization into disrepute.

The ANC is yet to make public the findings of its own ethics committee’s probe on the matter. Opposition parties have questioned whether Ramaphosa violated exchange control and tax laws.

South Africa’s revenue authority found, in March that Ramaphosa and the entities that run his cattle business are tax compliant. The central bank is still probing whether he violated foreign-exchange control laws.


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