South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa 'not resigning' despite cash scandal

The country's president is accused of trying to cover up the theft more than $500,000 in cash from his farm

A spokesman for South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, pictured above, said the leader would not resign on the basis of a 'flawed' report. AFP
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South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, embroiled in scandal and under threat of impeachment, has no intention of resigning and will fight both politically and judicially, his spokesman has said.

Pressure mounted this week for Mr Ramaphosa to quit or be forced from office over the theft of more than $500,000 in cash from his farm, which he allegedly covered up.

On Wednesday, a three-member parliamentary panel, including a former chief justice of the country's highest court, said Mr Ramaphosa "may have committed" acts contrary to the law and the constitution, paving the way for impeachment proceedings.

"President Ramaphosa is not resigning based on a flawed report, neither is he stepping aside," his spokesman Vincent Magwenya said on Saturday.

Mr 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 north-eastern South Africa from the authorities.

He allegedly organised for the burglars to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.

Mr Ramaphosa, who is head of the African National Congress, the country's ruling party, has denied any wrongdoing.

He has not been charged with anything at this point, and the police inquiry is continuing.

But the scandal, complete with details of more than $500,000 in cash being hidden under sofa cushions, comes at the worst possible moment for the president.

On December 16, Mr Ramaphosa will contest 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," Mr Magwenya said.

Mr Ramaphosa understood that "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."

The ANC leadership met briefly in Johannesburg on Friday, before telling journalists it would look more closely at the facts of the case against the president.

The party said earlier on Saturday that its National Executive Committee would hold a special session on Monday morning.

Mr Magwenya also said the president would challenge the parliamentary report in court.

"It is in the long-term interest ... of our constitutional democracy, well beyond the Ramaphosa presidency, that such a clearly flawed report is challenged, especially when it's being used as a point of reference to remove a sitting head of state," he said.

The head of the South African Anglican Church warned that the country would be in danger of falling "into anarchy" if Mr Ramaphosa resigned.

Mr Ramaphosa said the vast sum of cash stashed at the farm was payment for buffaloes bought by a Sudanese businessman.

But the incriminating report questioned why the identity of Mustafa Mohamed Ibrahim Hazim, said to have bought the cattle, could not be verified, and why the buffaloes remained on Mr Ramaphosa's Phala Phala estate, a two-hour drive from Pretoria.

"There are serious doubts as to whether the stolen foreign currency actually came from their sale," the report concluded.

The scandal has cast a shadow over Mr Ramaphosa's bid to portray himself as graft-free after the corruption-tainted era of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

The report will be examined by Parliament on Tuesday.

That debate could open the way to a vote on impeaching Mr Ramaphosa, which would mean his removal from office.

The South African press remained confident on Saturday that Mr Ramaphosa would remain in office. The president is popular with the public — more so than the ANC.

The party of national hero Nelson Mandela, and which has been in power for 28 years since the end of apartheid, is experiencing dwindling support.

Mr Ramaphosa took office at the helm of Africa's most industrialised economy in 2018, vowing to root out corruption from state institutions.

Updated: December 04, 2022, 7:52 AM
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