The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing in its probe into the theft of millions of undisclosed foreign currency from his Phala Phala farm in 2020.
On Monday morning, Governor Lesetja Kganyago released the report via the bank’s website.
It states that Ramaphosa was found not to have violated 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 investigation is tied to a criminal complaint filed by former spy chief Arthur Fraser last year. Fraser alleged the president violated the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by failing to report the burglary at his farm.
Ramaphosa has also been accused by some of his adversaries of being implicated in corruption and money laundering, with former President Thabo Mbeki also raising worries about the optics of the scandal.
Acting Public Prosecutor Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka cleared Ramaphosa of the theft in June. Gcaleka ruled he did not breach the executive members’ ethics code, stating that he had not taken on another job while acting as head of state, and that in informing his head of security of the burglary meant he had violated the executive members’ ethics code.
The opposition has loudly condemned this, with the African Transformation Movement (ATM) filing the first complaint with the public protector and now contesting the report in court.
The SARB determined that no money paid to the president’s farm manager in 2019 was declared upon entry into South Africa. It also discovered that the president’s tax affairs were in order, including those of his Ntaba Nyoni Estate, which Phala Phala is under, which were tax compliant.
Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa allegedly paid Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm manager US$580,000 in cash to purchase buffalo, which he has yet to collect or receive.
According to the findings of a three-member independent commission constituted by Parliament, a case for impeachment against the president might be built based on his actions during the incident. The African National Congress (ANC) utilised its legislative majority to overturn it, however.
Opponents in the president’s own party anticipated the scandal would bring him down and force him out of power before the ANC’s 2022 national conference, but he not only remained at the leadership of both the country and his party, but was re-elected as president of the ANC.
Some are hoping that the ATM reviewing the public protector’s report will provide the impetus needed for Ramaphosa to step down as president.