Ramaphosa says the case opened against him is politically motivated

“I have never stolen from anywhere,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa, in response to the claims of money laundering, kidnapping and corruption over the theft of $4-million at his game farm in February 2020, claiming it was politically motivated. 

He was speaking at the ANC’s Limpopo conference on Sunday evening, regarding the case opened by former spy boss and prisons head Arthur Fraser. 

Ramaphosa said this was part of a political ploy to cast aspersion on him because of his undeterred fight against corruption. 

Fraser is a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma. His release of the former head of state on medical parole after he was jailed for contempt of court was declared unlawful by the high court and Fraser’s contract as national commissioner of correctional services was not renewed earlier this year.

The Mail & Guardian reported earlier on Sunday that Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen had written to South African Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter on Friday requesting that Sars investigate whether the money stolen at the game farm had been declared and whether the transaction had implications in terms of the Income Tax Act and the Tax Administration Act.

“I want to assure you that all this was money from proceeds from selling animals. I have never stolen anywhere, be it from our taxpayers, be it from anyone. I have never done so and will never do so. My integrity as a leader will never allow me to do so. I will never be able to do so,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

In another letter to the South African Reserve Bank, Steenhuisen asked for an investigation into the foreign exchange transactions by the president and any possible violations of the legal limit on possession of foreign exchange.

He said the central bank had a legal obligation to “apply these regulations equally, and investigate all violations” and as such should investigate the president’s possession of the foreign currency.

Quizzed by journalists at the Limpopo conference on Sunday, Ramaphosa said he would not go into detail about the matter, reiterating that he would fully cooperate with the investigation. 

He said that he had declared to parliament his business interests as a cattle and game farmer. 

“I buy and sell animals. Sometimes people buy these animals and some of the people who buy these animals are here. I do it through sales, sometimes through cash and sometimes through transfers. Some of the people who are offshore customers and who are sometimes local, come through and buy animals and some come also to hunt on the farm,” he said.

Ramaphosa earlier told delegates: “So this that is being reported was a clear business transaction of selling animals. The amount involved is far less than what has been branded in the press. Some are saying it’s a billion rand, some are saying it’s $4-million, I want to say it’s far less.” 

ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile would not respond to questions about the money. When the M&G asked whether this matter would be part of the discussions in the national executive committee and in the national working committee, Mashatile said no, adding that the newspaper should pose its questions to Ramaphosa. 

Meanwhile, the Limpopo province endorsed Ramaphosa for another term as ANC president, with newly re-elected chairperson Stan Mathabatha lauding him as the champion of the party’s renewal.

Limpopo has surpassed the Eastern Cape as the second biggest province in terms of ANC membership. The Eastern Cape, which also endorsed Ramaphosa for a second term, remains the second-largest province in terms of wards, after KwaZulu-Natal.

With the two provinces behind him, Ramaphosa is on the right path to his re-election in December. 

“This conference has been unanimous in expressing its support for your leadership, comrade President Ramaphosa,” Mathabatha said in his closing address on Sunday.

“The conference has said that president Ramaphosa is a man equal to the challenges of this epoch of our revolution. The project of unity and renewal is well led under president Ramaphosa. Lead us Matamela, we love you.”

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

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