Sh425m stolen from South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa returns to haunt him

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes to get re-elected on May 1, 2024, General Election. [File, Standard]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa could face an impeachment motion after a special panel set up to investigate corruption allegations against him submitted its report on Wednesday.

The three-member tribunal, led by former South African Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, found that Ramaphosa could have violated the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

In February 2020, some $4m (Sh425 million) was stolen in cash from Ramaphosa’s farm in Bela-Bela, Limpopo Province, but the president never filed a police report of the said-theft, raising questions on how the money was acquired.

An investigation report by the special panel, that has compiled its findings, was handed over to South Africa’s National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday, November 20.

News 24 reports that the panel has found serious evidence suggesting Ramaphosa breached anti-corruption laws.

“A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by acting in a way that is inconsistent with his office. A serious misconduct in that the president violated section 96(2)(b) by exposing himself to a situation involving a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private business,” the report said as quoted by News 24.

The report also found that President Ramaphosa failed to report the theft of Sh425 million from his farm as required by the law.

“Reporting the matter to General Wally Rhoode, a member of the Presidential Protection Unit, is not in compliance with the South African Police Service Amendment Act, 2012 which directs that reporting should be made to the police officers in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in terms of Section 34(1) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004,” the report said.

The National Assembly will convene on December 6 to adopt a resolution, “through a simple majority vote, whether a further action by the House is necessary or not,” said Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula.

Former Director-General of South Africa’s State Security Agency Arthur Fraser alleged in June 2022 that Ramaphosa, whom he was accusing of money laundering, concealed a February 2020 theft of Sh425 million at his Phala Phala wildlife farm in Limpopo Province.

Ramaphosa confirmed the theft took place, but said the cash was lawfully acquired through the sale of game. He has denied breaking the law or any regulations relating to his office.

At his farm, it is reported the Head of State deals in the rearing and sale of Ankole cattle, buffalo and rare game.

The report comes one month into Ramaphosa’s party re-election bid, as he seeks to continue being the leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

Between December 16 and December 20, 2022, an elective conference will decide if he gets to run for a second term on the ANC ticket in the May 1, 2024, national polls.

Earlier November, the president’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya told journalists that Ramaphosa, 70, would “gladly step aside” if he were to be criminally charged.

Ramaphosa remains the favourite to win the ANC party ticket, where he faces former Health minister Zweli Mkhize, 66, who resigned from the government in August 2021 amid corruption allegations.