Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing a multi-pronged offensive initiated by the country’s main opposition party who are demanding answers in the Phala Phala farm theft controversy that has engulfed the Presidency.
Opposition parties have questioned the suspension of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane soon after she was asked to investigate the president, and more recently, the delays in the release of part five of the State Capture report.
Ramaphosa has come under scrutiny since former spy boss Arthur Fraser submitted an affidavit to police on June 1 which alleges that the president did not report the theft of “large undisclosed sums of foreign currency in the form of US dollars concealed in his furniture at his Phala Phala residence”.
Fraser has also alleged that Ramaphosa tried to cover up the February 2020 crime using state resources.
Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing but yesterday DA leader John Steenhuisen said the longer the silence continued, the more the damage was being done locally and internationally.
Steenhuisen yesterday said the party has taken nine steps to hold Ramaphosa accountable, including writing to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at its Pretoria office to request that they investigate allegations of possible money laundering by the president.
“Specifically, we have requested that the FBI considers investigating the source of the funds and whether the money was brought into South Africa legitimately and declared to the appropriate authorities,” Steenhuisen said.
The DA has also written to the South African Revenue Service and the Financial Intelligence Centre requesting that they investigate the various alleged financial transactions that followed the theft and how there was a conversion of foreign currency to rand without raising red flags.
The party has asked Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka to investigate the alleged breaches of the Executive Ethics Code.
They have written to Tina JoematPettersson, the chairperson of the portfolio committee overseeing the police, requesting that Major-General Wally Rhoode appear before the committee.
Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa must speak out and not go to ground over serious allegations that he did not report a crime.
“The president cannot use the ongoing investigation to avoid tough questions. This may be good advice legally but politically this is disastrous.
“We believe even on his own version of events there are serious questions to be answered.
“As the Namibian angle and local angle develops he needs to take SA and its citizens into his confidence.”
Steenhuisen said this was the same president who raised his hands at the Union Buildings and swore to uphold the Constitution and all laws of the republic.
“Cyril Ramaphosa may be the preferred person to lead the ANC, but the law must apply equally, he must be above reproach and stick to the oath of office.”
Steenhuisen’s press conference comes as Ramaphosa faces fresh scrutiny over allegations that he has interfered with the judiciary amid the delay of the fifth and final report on the State
Capture inquiry, which includes a focus on the State Security Agency.The report is expected to be released to the Presidency today.
Yesterday Chief Justice Raymond Zondo issued a statement saying Ramaphosa had “never interfered in any way with the work of the Chairperson or of the Commission”, adding that the delays in releasing the report were due to quality assurance checks.
The Presidency issued a statement in the early hours of yesterday saying it rejected claims that the president had in any manner interfered with the work of the commission or the judiciary as speculated by some opposition parties.
The Presidency said it issued the statement “to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding”.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane responded to the Presidency statement, asking why it was necessary for Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Zondo, who heads the inquiry, to have private meetings regarding the fifth part of the report.
“The speculation is not coming from nowhere! Firstly the deadline was the 15th, secondly these private engagements between the CJ (Zondo) and implicated people reasonably lead to questions of judicial independence,” Maimane said on Twitter.
The EFF in a statement described the delay in releasing the report as “patently factional and suspicious”.
“This successive delay, after Arthur Fraser has made damning allegations of Ramaphosa’s involvement in money laundering, kidnapping, bribery and defeating the ends of justice, gives credence to the claims that the report is being altered in order to cast doubt on the credibility of Arthur Fraser,” the party said.