Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency under threat after panel finds he ‘abused his position’

Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency under threat after panel finds he 'abused his position'
Written by boustamohamed31

Cyril Ramaphosa has come under increasing pressure to resign as South Africa’s president after a parliamentary report concluded he abused his office as a result of the theft of more than $500,000 in cash that was stuffed into a sofa at his private farm for game.

Ramaphosa will not be “rushed” into a decision and is keeping all options open, his spokesman said on Thursday evening, as delays to a planned address to the nation and a series of consultations within the ruling African National Congress indicated his presidency was on the line.

“We are at an unprecedented and extraordinary moment as a constitutional democracy,” his spokesman added.

Ramaphosa’s authority was left hanging in the balance after a commission headed by a former South African chief justice found he may have broken an anti-corruption law over the farm robbery scandal and should be investigated for possible impeachment.

Ramaphosa canceled a scheduled appearance before the upper house of South Africaparliament on Thursday, heightening the sense of crisis. The rand fell against the US dollar and South African government bonds sold off sharply.

“President Ramaphosa must now resign or face impeachment without further delay,” said Herman Mashaba, leader of ActionSA, South Africa’s third-largest opposition party. Both he and the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition, have called for the election to be moved from 2024.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the panel’s findings were a “seismic shift in South African politics”. . . Ramaphosa is not a helpless victim in all this. The collapse of his presidency was entirely his own doing.

Senior ANC leaders are due to meet on Friday to discuss Ramaphosa’s fate and a deepening sense of crisis surrounding the inquiry, which said he failed to properly report the 2020 robbery to police and wrongly sought the help of Namibia’s you’re a colleague on the matter.

“Vultures are circling,” said Judith February, executive director of Freedom Under Law, a legal watchdog. “If the facts aren’t on your side, you tend to avoid, and we’re drawn to the inevitable conclusion that the president has something to hide.”

The report’s findings are a huge blow to Ramaphosa’s image just weeks before he runs for re-election as ANC leader on an anti-graft platform.

Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s richest men, won a clear lead in party nominations for leader last month, nearly five years after the trade unionist-turned-businessman replaced corruption-tainted Jacob Zuma and promised to clean up the country.

He has always denied wrongdoing in connection with the robbery at his Phala Phala farm, which was only revealed this year when a former head of South Africa’s spy agency under Zuma accused the presidency of a cover-up.

Still, the commission found that “there was a deliberate decision to keep the investigation secret” after the robbery. “The president abused his position as head of state to investigate the case and seek the cooperation of the president of Namibia to apprehend a suspect” in the neighboring country, the group said.

Namibian President Hage Geingob has denied giving Ramaphosa any inappropriate assistance in the Phala Phala case. Neither government denied that a request for assistance had been made.

Ramaphosa told the panel the money was legitimate proceeds from the sale of a buffalo to a Sudanese businessman for $580,000 and that he had reported the theft to the president’s security chief.

But the commission said the law required him to have reported directly to the police. Ramaphosa may have committed serious misconduct “by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his personal business,” it said.

The panel added that there were “a number of important questions about this transaction that remain unanswered”, such as why the buffalo that was sold remained on Ramaphosa’s farm more than two years later and why the money was hidden in a sofa.

More money appears to have been stolen from the couch than the amount received for selling the buffalo, the panel said.

“The cumulative effect of all this is that there is substantial doubt as to the legitimacy of the source of the currency that was stolen. This is a very serious matter.

South Africa’s central bank is conducting its own investigation into whether the money was correctly accounted for as foreign currency under South African foreign exchange regulations. Not reported yet.

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