SA President Ramaphosa considers resigning over burglary scandal
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering resigning after an advisory panel probing a burglary scandal at his farm found he may have violated the constitution, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
Boomberg reported that people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media said Mr Ramaphosa is in meetings with close allies to take advice on the matter.
The country’s parliament is set to examine the report and decide whether to push ahead with impeachment proceedings next week, only days before Ramaphosa faces a crucial internal party election.
The President is expected to address the panel’s findings on Thursday.
The three-person panel set up in September to probe the alleged cover-up of theft at Mr Ramaphosa’s farmhouse wrote in its conclusions that the information it gathered “discloses… that the president may have committed “serious violations and misconduct”.
These include not reporting the theft directly to the police, acting in a way inconsistent with holding office and exposing himself to a clash between his official responsibilities and his private business.
Reacting to the report, Mr Ramaphosa reiterated his denial of any wrongdoing.
“The conclusions of the panel require careful reading and appropriate consideration in the interest of the stability of the government and that of the country,” the presidency said in a statement.
The affair, which has tarnished the president’s reputation and overshadowed his bid for re-election as ruling party leader, erupted in June after South Africa’s former national spy boss filed a complaint with the police.
It alleged that Ramaphosa had hidden a burglary at his farm at Phala Phala in northeastern South Africa from the authorities.
Instead, he allegedly organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.
The president has denied this, and laid out his position at length in the 138-page submission that was leaked on Wednesday.
“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.
Ramaphosa said $580,000 in cash was stolen from beneath sofa cushions at his ranch.
The sum was payment made by a Sudanese citizen who had bought buffaloes.
Staff at the farm initially locked the money in an office safe, Ramaphosa said.
Money under cushions
But the lodge manager then decided that the “safest place” to store it would be under the cushions of a sofa inside Ramaphosa’s residence at the farm, he said.
Ramaphosa told the inquiry that the accusations against him were “without any merit” and asked it not to take the matter “any further”.
But his request was rebuffed.