South Africa has been thrown into turmoil! Until now, Cyril Ramaphosa was the frontrunner for the upcoming meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) to choose the next eligible candidate.
South Africans ask agitatedly: Will their president be impeached? Will he resign? or stay and fight?
A parliamentary investigation has found that President Cyril Ramaphosa has a case to answer in connection with a robbery at his game farm, Phala Phala. On June 1, Arthur Fraser, the former chief of the State Security Agency (SSA), handed a report to the police about this event, which Ramaphosa had never made public. In his statement, Fraser made several serious allegations concerning foreign exchange and other alleged criminal actions, which led to the investigation by an independent panel.
The affair concerns a large sum of foreign currency ($580,000, i.e., R8.7 million) hidden in a sofa at the farm. Not quite the normal thing to do. The average person may stash a few dollars or euros that way, but hardly a mind-boggling $580,000. Ramaphosa, on the other hand, belongs to the small group of the Seriously Rich, thanks to his previous jobs as director of a different company. At the time, the president, who had said the money was the proceeds of a game sale, had asked Fraser to deal with the robbery quietly. A previous report said that the money was returned, but the thieves were not punished.
After the Independent Panel’s report, early news reports said that Ramaphosa would resign. Investors went into a spin: who would succeed him? Would the new leader keep up Ramaphosa’s fight against corruption and manage the economy, public policies, and public finances? The fears are; if the Zuma Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction in the ANC gains the upper hand, it will return disgraced individuals to highly valued jobs, thus returning to the old ways of stealing.
Important voices have spoken up, urging Ramaphosa to stay and fight as a public service. The Judge, who found the allegations damning, also said Fraser’s statements were “hearsay,” as he had not given any source for his accusations, though he had. This should happen in the proper setting. Fraser has shot back to say that he could supply such information.
The Daily Maverick (DM) published a piece by Richard Calland called “Credibility.” He wrote that the panel had not given “a report of the necessary high quality and credibility.” For Ramaphosa to leave because of a “flawed report” would be unjust and “set an entirely inappropriate precedent.” He also said that the panel’s harsh conclusions were based on “limited, untested, and mostly hearsay evidence.”
One feels that the ex-spy chief had planned this outcome. By now, everyone has heard of the Trio, the three Gupta brothers, who successfully fleeced South Africa with billions of Rand during Jacob Zuma’s infamous presidency in what became known as “state capture.” The years of the Zondo Commission’s work have paid off. Its 2022 reports revealed many names, unraveled deals, and disclosed incredible sums.
The fallout has already been significant, with no doubt more to come. So it’s not surprising that the wheeler dealers, such as Arthur Fraser, are fighting back. He is an associate of Zuma, whom he helped get elected as the ANC’s president in 2007. That, too, had paid off. The Zondo State Capture Report disclosed that he got rich while a member of the ANC.
More recently, another charge has been added. One of the state institutions that had been robbed and badly wounded during state capture was the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). The National Treasury investigated 216 contracts and found that only 13 were in order. Arthur Fraser was the only contractor who benefited from the Prasa contract.
Another opinion is that the Phala Phala report is a wake-up call: it is up to the voters to cast their ballots for a new upright citizen, a Mr. Clean, and offer the good guys selected by the Daily Maverick as Men of the Year as candidates!
Reading the comments from different articles on the subject was fascinating. Many speak of the ANC’s dilemma: if they close ranks and avoid Ramaphosa’s impeachment, what will that do to the new transparency policy? Or will this episode lead to the triumph of the RET faction?
One reader seems to fear this.
He summed up his feelings: “When Cyril goes, it’s done and dusted.”
Well, one will have to wait and see.