JOAHANNESBURG, South Africa -South African opposition parties leaders, John Steenhuisen of the Democratic Alliance leader, and Herman Mashaba of ActionSA, have called on the beleaguered President Cyril Ramaphosa to explain himself to the nation on the circumstances surrounding the robbery at his Phala Phala Farm in Limpopo as called upon by the constitution.
Coined ‘DollarGate’ by the DA, the scandal includes allegations of bribery and kidnapping, the farm allegedly had kept some $4million at the farm which was stolen by Ramaphosa’s domestic worker in collaboration with a group of Namibian nationals who broke into Ramaphosa’s farm in February 2020.
Ramaphosa then decided to keep this incident under wraps to avoid public scrutiny and in his words ‘avoid a crisis’.
According to the online media, Steenhuisen says the President is facing a crisis of credibility with a cloud over his head following these revelations and that the country can ill-afford for the President to remain mum over the allegations of money laundering , kidnapping and bribery that have since been leveled against him.
“The President is facing a crisis of credibility and cannot hide behind procedural smokescreens to avoid presenting South Africans with the full truth around the money that was stolen from his farm, and the subsequent cover-up. There is no aspect of any police or other investigation that prevents him from taking the country into his confidence with a full and honest account of events. In fact, he has a special obligation to do so which no other South African has,” Steenhuisen has said in a media statement on Monday.
Mashaba also led the outcry against Ramaphosa, he penned a letters to the Governor of the reserve bank, Lesetja Kganyago and SARS commissioner and Edward Kieswetter saying that Ramaphosa has broken a number of the country’s laws as a result of the damning claims.
“My letters to the SARB Governor specifically pose a number of questions, key amongst which was whether any declarations or documentation had been submitted in relation to foreign currency transactions at Phala Phala and whether the SARB has any knowledge of this. While my letter to the SARS Commissioner raises questions about SARS’ knowledge about these funds, declarations made in respect of this cash and whether tax had been paid in respect of such transactions’” Mashaba says.
Mashaba added that it is illegal for South African businesses to transact in foreign currency unless it is for export purposes, and even then, documentation would exist to legalise such a transaction which had to be by electronic transfer and never in cash. It is further known that tourists are limited to only foreign currency not exceeding R25 000, and no local citizen would be able to hold more than $10 000 in foreign currency.
“In a country where the rule of law remains a threatened principle, and where South Africans are exposed to so much lawlessness, it is of grave concern that the President’s statements this week would suggest he has broken the laws of our country. What is most troubling is that President Ramaphosa remains evasive and wanting to treat this like an in-house matter that should not concern the rest of the country. This has been consistent with his prioritisation of the ANC of our country and it cannot be tolerated any further,” Mashaba said
Quoting the words of former Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng during former President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla saga, Steenhuisen says he would like to remind Ramaphosa of the role of the head of state and what it means to be the first citizen of a democratic state.
“The President is the Head of State and Head of the national Executive. His is indeed the highest calling to the highest office in the land. He is the first citizen of this country and occupies a position indispensable for the effective governance of our democratic country. Only upon him has the constitutional obligation to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic been expressly imposed.
On the weekend and speaking in public for the first time since the allegations against him, the President addressed the 10th Limpopo Provincial Conference on Sunday, and denied ever stealing our ranking money from taxpayers,” said the statement.
The party says that there are too many questions that remain unanswered such as : How much money was kept on the farm and in what currency? How much of it was stolen? How did this foreign currency get into the country? How long was it stored on the President’s property? Were the correct exchange controls observed? And does the president still hold foreign currency at his farm or any of his other properties?
Steenhuisen adds that the president’s failure to report the incident to the authorities sent the wrong image to the citizens of this country and the respect for the rule of law and the processes governing tax laws of the country.
He says that by not declaring foreign currencies these tax laws were flouted by Ramaphosa when he kept over a billion in his private home instead of the bank.
Furthermore, the DA has asked Ramaphosa to come clean and show that when he says he is fighting corruption he means or us merely paying lip service and using his ticket as a corruption fighter to woo South Africans in his bid to be re-elected for his second term of office. – IOL