South Africa: Ramaphosa’s presidency hanging as probe finds him guilty

By Ray Mwareya

Posted on Thursday, 1 December 2022 09:49
File photo of South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa is on the verge of a possible removal as both the head of state and of the ruling ANC party after a parliamentary probe into money laundering allegations last night found him to have seriously violated the law.

In June, Arthur Fraser, South Africa’s former spy-chief, accused the president of kidnapping, paying bribes and keeping quiet about $4m being stolen from his wild game farm in 2020. The source of origin and the true value of the money is controversial.

Dubbed ‘Phala Phala’ in reference to the name of the game farm that Ramaphosa owns, the scandal threatens to cut off his reign in power anytime from now.

Explosive findings

Last night at midnight, a probe appointed by the speaker of parliament to determine if the president broke the law by not reporting the farm theft to police and the South Africa Reserve Bank, presented its report – and its damning.

“In light of all information placed before the (probe) panel, we concluded that the president may have committed – a serious violation(s), serious misconduct,” said Sandile Ngcobo, a former chief justice of South Africa, and head of the probe set up by parliament concluded in his explosive findings.

What follows now is that South Africa’s lawmakers are set to debate the report’s findings on 6 December and attempt to set up a lawmakers’ panel to investigate Ramaphosa’s conduct.

The unflattering report may have ruined Ramaphosa’s ability to remain president and armed his critics, just 16 days ahead of a do-or-die congress to either re-elect or oust Ramaphosa as the ANC’s president.

“President Ramaphosa must show respect to South Africans and resign, or face impeachment,” Herman Mashaba, former mayor of Johannesburg and now president of ActionSA, the best performing upstart opposition party in 2021 elections, thundered as soon as the report’s findings was released.

Ramaphosa must now step aside from office immediately to answer to the case now hanging around his neck, demanded Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, a senior cabinet minister in Ramaphosa’s administration.

“Gone,” is how Julius Malema, leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, dubbed Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency on hearing the release of the report.

One-term president?

Ramaphosa’s failure to come out earlier and fully inform South Africans of what went on at his farm on the day of the robbery and its aftermath may have periled his presidency completely, independent political analyst Kudakwashe Magezi, told The Africa Report from Johannesburg last night.

“If he survives – which appears now a 50-50 chance, his presidency of South Africa and the ANC will certainly be a one-term presidency just like Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma,” Magezi added.

Ramaphosa faces fiery rivals in the contest for the ANC party presidency on 16 December, and his foes have wagered their hopes on the report’s findings damning him.

Ramaphosa’s fiercest opponent for the ANC’s presidency is his former health minister Zweli Mkhize who enjoys the support of the key KwaZulu Natal Province where Jacob Zuma, the biggest nemesis of Ramaphosa draws his power from.

“The president (Ramaphosa) is corrupt. He has committed treason,” former South Africa and ANC party president Jacob Zuma roiled publicly his successor a month ago, speculating that allegedly hiding details of the $4m stolen at the farm means Ramaphosa was hiding something bigger than simply money.

Dead man walking

“My thinking of it is Ramaphosa might be a dead man walking and would drag the economy along with him if he clings on without this matter put to rest,” Carter Mavhiza, an independent economist, told The Africa Report from Johannesburg, pointing out that the Rand, which has been firming against the USD this week, and was trading around 17, could massively lose traction if the scandal’s fallout deepens as is expectd in coming days.

If South Africa’s parliament votes to create a panel to impeach the president, Ramaphosa might survive because his ANC party enjoys a majority in parliament, says Magezi. However, apart from an impeachment, there’s the ANC’s elective congress on 16 December.

President Ramaphosa must show respect to South Africans and resign, or face impeachment.

“Ramaphosa might be forced to step aside as both president of South Africa and the ANC days before congress,” he says, referring to the term “step aside” that was a resolution adopted in 2021 by the ANC which demands that any party member charged with potential corruption will be barred from the party and state duties until they are cleared of wrongdoing by the courts.

“Ramaphosa was the most liberal president in South Africa after the Zuma years. If he falls – a radical populist economy might be ushered in by his successor,” adds Mavhiza.

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