HomeWorldAfricaGame Ranch Scandal Threatens South Africa's President's Political Future

Game Ranch Scandal Threatens South Africa’s President’s Political Future

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president is fighting for his political future amid a scandal that has tarnished his reputation as an anti-apartheid icon once admired for fixing Africa’s most developed economy.

Cyril Ramaphosa, 70, denies hiding $580,000 in a sofa at his game ranch. He is accused of not registering the money with authorities and not reporting its theft to police to avoid questions about how he got the U.S. dollars.

Starting Friday, the African National Congress will vote on whether Ramaphosa should resign as leader. The past two South African presidents resigned after losing the party leadership at the ANC conference.

This week, Ramaphosa easily survived an impeachment vote in parliament, strengthening his hand in the party conference vote.
Ramaphosa may be charged with illegally holding foreign currency.

This week, News24’s headline read, “From Ramaphoria to Ramafailure,” describing how Ramaphosa’s leadership of this nation of 60 million has soured.

Ramaphosa, a trade unionist, became a board member and shareholder in several of South Africa’s largest corporations. He appeared well-equipped to combat the corruption that has permeated almost every aspect of South African life, including police and government services.

Ramaphosa raises Ankole cattle and African antelopes on his Phala Phala ranch in Limpopo province. He was accused of hiding foreign cash in a couch at his ranch house. In 2020, Ramaphosa did not report the theft to police to avoid questions about where the money came from and why it was not declared.

Ramaphosa claims that his ranch manager did not know what to do with the money from the sale of buffalo to a Sudanese businessman.

Ramaphosa’s supporters say the allegations against him—that he broke South African regulations prohibiting citizens from holding foreign cash without declaring it to financial authorities—are minor compared to the billions of dollars critics say former President Jacob Zuma’s associates stole from the state by getting fraudulent contracts with state-owned corporations.

“He will lose his ability to fight corruption if they demand a trade. He will retain power but with less authority. It will render him useless.”

– William Gumede

William Gumede, head of Democracy Works, said Ramaphosa’s disappointment was profound. But South Africa’s expectations are so low that Ramaphosa is still better than other alternatives. “I’m amazed that this is the view from corporate boardrooms to rural villages.”

On 13 December, Ramaphosa was supported by almost all African National Congress lawmakers, who hold a majority of seats.

ANC support suggests Ramaphosa will be re-elected. He needs party leadership to run for re-election in 2024.

Only Nelson Mandela, who served one term from 1994 to 1999, retired voluntarily. Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, resigned in 2008 after clashing with Zuma’s faction.

Zuma reigned. An extensive corruption investigation judge said those years were marked by rampant looting of state coffers. Zuma resigned due to overwhelming corruption allegations.

After Zuma resigned in 2018, Ramaphosa promised to clean up and supported the judicial inquiry. He was admired for his COVID-19 leadership. The scandal over the dollars stashed in his ranch sofa has forced him to focus on staying in power.

Gumede predicted that Ramaphosa would remain the ANC’s leader and president. But many shady characters have helped him survive. “He will lose his ability to fight corruption if they demand a trade. He will retain power but with less authority. It will render him useless.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes to be re-elected on May 1, 2024. (Image by: Standardmedia)

Ramaphosa’s political struggles come as South Africa faces 35% unemployment, 7.4% inflation, and national power outages lasting over seven hours a day.

South Africa feels hopeless. Gumede said people don’t trust political leaders or parties. “South Africa is in trouble. Only 2024 elections will bring better leaders.

South Africans are jaded about Ramaphosa.

The Phala Phala cash revelations shocked Kempton Park resident Lerato Makgatho, 38.

“He has always been known as a billionaire, so to hear about dollars of cash in a couch at his farm does not fit with that picture,” she said. “This one shocked me.”

Thabiso Kome, 35, a community activist in Tembisa township east of Johannesburg, said he did not expect Ramaphosa to solve corruption because it is so widespread in the ruling party.

“Some of us have seen local clinic and hospital corruption. Kome said one person cannot solve that kind of corruption. “ANC corruption and controversy are common. Ramaphosa is part of it.”

Info source – PBS

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