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South Africa’s Ramaphosa Weighs Resigning Over Farm-Gate Scandal

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Cyril Ramaphosa’s future as South African president hung in the balance on Thursday, as his office said he was exploring options after a report found evidence he may have committed misconduct over a stash of cash stolen from his game farm.

Ramaphosa is considering resigning over an advisory panel’s report that found he may have violated the constitution, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ramaphosa is in meetings with close allies to take advice on the matter, said the people who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak to the media.

The rand weakened as much as 1.7 percent to an intraday low of 17.49 per dollar on the news and traded at 17.4892 by 1:50 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa is “in consultations with a number of stakeholders over the permutations of the panel’s report,” Vincent Magwenya, his spokesman, said.

The president will make an announcement on his response to the report and the presidency “willl advise once the time has been confirmed,” Magwenya said.

The Farmgate scandal erupted in June, when a former South African spy boss, Arthur Fraser, filed a complaint with police accusing the president of hiding a theft of $4m in cash from his Phala Phala farm in the north-east of the country in 2020.

Mr Fraser, a close ally of Mr Zuma, alleged that the money could have been the proceeds of money-laundering and corruption, and accused the president of kidnapping and bribing the burglars.

Holding such a large amount of money in dollars could violate foreign exchange control laws.

Mr Ramaphosa has confirmed a robbery, but said the amount stolen was less than that alleged, and denied attempting to cover it up.

Some $580,000 which had been paid in cash for buffalo was stolen from under sofa cushions in the farmhouse, he said.

“I did not ‘hunt’ for the perpetrators of the theft, as alleged, nor did I give any instructions for this to take place,” he wrote in a submission to the panel’s report, according to AFP news agency.

“We think that the president has a case to answer on the origin of the foreign currency that was stolen, as well as the underlying transaction for it,” the report said. It added: “The president abused his position as head of state to have the matter investigated and seeking the assistance of the Namibian president to apprehend a suspect.”

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