Commission report saves Ramaphosa under fire

President Cyril Ramaphosa walked a tightrope over the weekend as he tried to shrug off the Phala Phala scandal after his ANC opponents sought to use it to unseat him from the party presidency and the country.

Ramaphosa used his speech at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Friday to explain to senior ANC brass that he never sent anyone to chase the millions of US dollars that were stolen from his closes in 2020.

Ramaphosa used the meeting to try to explain himself to his comrades as the Phala Phala scandal continued to trouble his campaign for a second term amid heavy pressure for his challenger, the former health minister Zweli Mkhize, ascends the throne during the party’s elective conference.

A report emerged on Thursday purportedly from the party’s Integrity Commission (IC) which said it could not hold the president responsible for the theft from his farm. Those who oppose Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president now rely on the results of an independent panel appointed by parliament to determine whether he has a case to make. The panel, led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, has until Thursday to consider the evidence before it in the Phala Phala case.

Opening the ruling party’s first physical NEC meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Ramaphosa admitted the theft from his farm took place.

“The president said approximately $420,000 was stolen from his farm. He reaffirmed that there was no crime because the proceeds came from the sale of games,” said an NEC member who attended the meeting at the Nasrec Expo Center.

“He said he reported the matter to his head of security, who should have opened a file. He also explained that he never sent anyone to collect the lost money,” he said. he adds.

Ramaphosa security chief Wally Rhoode is facing an internal police disciplinary hearing for failing to formally report the matter to police and allegedly conducting a clandestine investigation.

Another NEC member said Ramaphosa held firm during the meeting.

“They thought the integrity commission was going to bury the president. This does not happen. It’s now over for the RET [radical economic transformation] faction,” said an official sympathetic to Ramaphosa.

However, another NEC member said it was expected that the commission would publish its official report on Phala Phala although it has not yet been circulated to leaders.

Several NEC members had planned to demand answers from the commission as to why, four months later, it still cannot produce a report. However, on Thursday the commission highlighted the progress made in investigating the matter.

According to the report, the party’s NEC was too divided to honestly discuss and provide proper leadership on the Phala Phala saga. The commission said that although the scandal had brought the ANC into disrepute, it could not conclude that Ramaphosa was involved and should therefore stand down.

He recommended that Ramaphosa should instead put the NEC and the nation in confidence about what happened.

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Georges Matlala

Aurora J. William