South Africa

Phala Phala report clearing Ramaphosa challenged

A South African opposition party is challenging a finding by the nation’s top anti-graft official that cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of alleged wrongdoing after an inquiry into the theft of foreign exchange at his game farm.

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka in June found there was no evidence that the president was actively involved in paid work — an act that would have contravened the Executive Ethics Code and brought potential sanction.

The African Transformation Movement, a minor opposition party whose leader was the complainant in the probe, asked the nation’s high court to overturn the finding.

“According to President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, he actively participated in the business operations of the Phala Phala farm by sourcing buyers for the game, specifically buffalo,” the party said in a statement on Monday.

“This level of involvement clearly contradicts the acting Public Protector’s conclusion that the president did not engage in other paid work.”

The furore over the robbery at his farm first erupted more than a year ago when Arthur Fraser, the former head of South Africa’s national spy agency, laid charges against Ramaphosa.

Fraser alleged that the president sought to cover up the 2020 theft, in which at least $580,000 of cash was stolen and stashed in a sofa at his game farm. 

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.

South Africa’s revenue authority found in March that Ramaphosa and the entities that run his cattle business are tax compliant. The central bank has yet to announce the findings of its probe into whether he violated foreign-exchange control laws.


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