SARB clears Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in Phala Phala Report

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12 August 2023: JOHANNESBURG – The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in its investigation into the millions of undisclosed foreign currency stolen from his Phala Phala farm in 2020.

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Governor Lesetja Kganyago released the report via the bank’s website on Monday morning.

In it, it says Ramaphosa was found to have not contravened the Exchange Control Regulations.

“On the facts available to it, the SARB finds that there was no perfected transation and thus the SARB cannot conclude that there was no contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations… by Ntaba Nyoni Estates CC or that that matter by the President.”

The probe is linked to a criminal complaint lodged by former spy boss Arthur Fraser last year. Fraser claimed the president failed to report the burglary at his farm, thus contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Ramaphosa has also been accused of possibly being involved in corruption and money laundering by some of his detractors, with Former President Thabo Mbeki, also raising concerns over the optics created by the saga.

In June, acting public protector Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka absolved Ramaphosa over his conduct in the theft. Gcaleka found he did not violate the executive members ethics code, arguing he had not taken on another job while serving as head of state, and that by telling his head of security of the burglary it meant he had reported the matter, as he was expected to.

This has been widely rejected by the opposition, with the African Transformation Movement (ATM) lodging the original complaint with the public protector, now challenging the report in court.

The SARB concluded there was no record of money paid to the president’s farm manager in 2019 being declared upon entry to South Africa. It also found the president’s tax affairs were in order, including those of his Ntaba Nyoni Estate, which Phala Phala is under, which were found to be tax compliant.

It was believed Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa paid Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm manager US$580,000 in cash to purchase buffalo, which to date he never collected nor received.

Findings by a three-member independent panel appointed by Parliament found a case could be made against the president for impeachment over his conduct in the saga. However, the African National Congress (ANC) used its parliamentary majority to quash it.

The president’s opponents in his own party had hoped the scandal would sink him, getting him out of office ahead of its 2022 national conference, but he not only remained at the helm in both the country and his party, but was re-elected as the president of the ANC.

Some are hoping the ATM taking the public protector’s report on review might deliver the push they had been seeking for Ramaphosa to leave his job as head of state.