CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is asking the country’s Constitutional Court to overturn a parliamentary report that says he may have broken the law and could lead to his removal from office.
The report released last week said Ramaphosa may have broken his oath of office by hiding more than half a million dollars in a sofa at his game ranch that was then stolen but not reported to police. The scandal has led to calls for impeachment proceedings against him.
The executive committee of the ruling African National Congress party said that that it will vote against adopting the report.
The party’s acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile, said that while the president was taking the matter on review, he would also subject himself to scrutiny by the party’s integrity commission.
“What does that mean? It means the president continues with his duties as president of the ANC and the republic,” Mashatile said. “The ANC agreed that the president must proceed to be held accountable.”
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo from the University of South Africa says the ANC’s stance isn’t surprising.
“They always rally around their leadership. They tend to close ranks especially when they feel they are under siege from the opposition,” Teffo said.
But Teffo says Ramaphosa was a vast improvement on former President Jacob Zuma, who was embroiled in multiple corruption cases.
He says it’s important to note who is calling for Ramaphosa to resign.
“In the main, some would say, are those who have never supported him. And there are those who have at least some clouds hanging over their head,” Teffo said. ” There are those who, the law enforcement agencies are circling them so one way or another they are trying to derail him and by so doing they may derail the process that may lead them ending up in jail.”
Teffo says he expected Ramaphosa to challenge the legality of the report. He says the independent panel of two retired judges and one lawyer had only 30 days plus a 13-day extension to do their work. And they had to deal only with the evidence presented to them. They could not investigate.
“And they concede that had we been given ample time, right, we could have done better but given the constraints and the brief by the way, we could not expand it by ourselves,” Teffo said.
The report wasn’t convinced of President Ramaphosa’s version of where the stolen money came from. Former spy boss Arthur Fraser said it was between $4-million and $8-million given to him by several African and Middle Eastern countries.
But Ramaphosa said a Sudanese businessman Hazim Moustafa bought 20 buffalos from his game farm on Christmas Day in 2019 and paid $580,000 for them.
The panel noted in the report that it was odd that Ramaphosa did not supply them with any other information about the buyer.
Sky News this week published an interview with Moustafa who said he purchased the buffalos. He said he declared the $580,000 at OR Tambo International Airport in Johanneburg.
Tax Attorney Jean du Toit says it should be easy for anyone wanting to prove this. He says under tax law requires anyone who enters the country with foreign currency to declare it.
“So, if he claims that at entering the airport he did that, he would’ve gone through customs and there would’ve been a record of the declaration of the currency,” du Toit said.
A court date for Ramaphosa’s Constitutional Court review has not been set yet.
Source: Voice of America