'Farmgate' scandal threatens presidency of South Africa's Ramaphosa

© Justin Tallis, AFP

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been under mounting pressure since an inquiry found evidence he may have committed serious misconduct in relation to a large amount of cash found at his game farm after a robbery.

Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing. But the inquiry's findings could not have come at a worse time for the president, who ousted his predecessor Jacob Zuma on a promise to clean up worsening corruption.

Before the findings came out on Wednesday, he was the clear favourite to lead the African National Congress (ANC) into elections in 2024 and secure a second presidential term.

But with less than a month to go before the party chooses its next candidate, he is battling for political survival.

How it all started

Everything changed for Ramaphosa when South Africa's former spy chief, Arthur Fraser, walked into a police station in June and accused him of money laundering and covering up a large theft of cash.

In a sworn statement, Fraser said thieves had raided Ramaphosa's Phala Phala game farm in February 2020, found at least $4 million in foreign cash hidden in furniture, and made off with the money.

Police opened a criminal investigation into the case after Fraser's statement, which raised questions about how Ramaphosa had acquired so much cash and whether he declared it.

The affair has been a huge embarrassment for Ramaphosa who has repeatedly spoken about taking a tough line on graft.

(Reuters)


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