MPs ask Ramaphosa to come clean about theft at his farm

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President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament. Photo: Jaco Marais
President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament. Photo: Jaco Marais

POLITICS


As expected, the budget vote delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament on Thursday was overshadowed by the revelations of the $4 million that was allegedly stolen at the president’s Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.

Opposition parties used the time to debate his budget speech to ask Ramaphosa to “come clean” about the events surrounding the large sum of money he kept on his Phala Phala farm and why he had not reported the theft to the police.

Last week former spy boss Arthur Fraser asked the police to investigate Ramaphosa, Presidential Protection Unit Head Major General Wally Rhoode and members of crime intelligence for money laundering, acting in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and corruption.

READ: Arthur Fraser’s damning affidavit

This followed what Fraser alleged was money valued at between $4 million (R60 million) and $8 million that had been concealed in the furniture of the president’s residence and was stolen after a domestic worker conspired with members of a crime syndicate to steal the cash. In his affidavit, Fraser alleged that the robbery took place in 2020.

The DA’s leader, John Steenhuisen, was the first to ask that Ramaphosa be transparent about the robbery and why he had not reported it to law enforcement.

Steenhuisen said:

The people of South Africa have a right to know what is happening behind the closed doors of the Phala farmhouse.

He said Ramaphosa had avoided talking about the alleged theft during his budget vote speech and asked what he thought how ordinary South African’s are taking the news that money amounting to millions in foreign currency was kept at his house and that the president had concealed the matter.

“Just how much money you must have stashed away in homes if you can afford to turn a blind eye to $4 billion (sic). Now you say the money was from animals. That may be the case, but I do not think there are many people who truly believe that.

READ: The man who stole Cyril's dollars

“You say this was about dirty tricks, you say this was above board, that you have broken no laws. But stuffing millions of rands into couches, hiding the robbery from the police, paying the robbers hundreds of thousands of rands not to say a word are not the actions of somebody who has broken no laws.”

Said Steenhuisen: 

These are the things we see in mafia movies about cartels, about syndicates and gangsters. If this was above board and just dirty tricks you could have ended it right away Mr President by a full, frank, and public disclosure.

He told Ramaphosa that if he came clean, he would have avoided the speculations and it would have not jeopardised any investigations.

“An honest, innocent man who was a victim of a massive crime would have wasted no time in clearing these things up. Only somebody with a lot to hide would hide behind the smoke screen of a pending investigation two years after the event.

“So again, Mr President I am asking you – for the sake of the country, for the sake of the presidency – to come clean to the people of South Africa and this house,” said the DA leader.

READ: $4m stolen? Unlikely, says game farm manager

Steenhuisen said parliament might not be the police, but it was the job of parliament to hold the executive accountable. He said every day that the questions surrounding the theft are not answered causes damage to the presidency.

“We have been here before and today’s scenes to the house was like back to the future. Do you recall the shame of Nkandla and the arrogance of your predecessor? Do you remember the embarrassment of the fire pool video and the shameless defending being done from the ANC benches? Do you remember the scathing rebuke our parliament received for failing to uphold the president of the time, president [Jacob] Zuma accountable for Nkandla and the solemn promises that were made thereafter by many people in this house that ‘never again’?

“Do you remember the words of then Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in a 2016 judgment when he spoke of your unique obligations, Mr president, as the first citizen?” asked Steenhuisen.

READ: Constitutional Court’s damning judgment: Zuma violated his oath of office

He said, according to the judgment, Ramaphosa is supposed to be beyond reproach, transparent and must serve people with integrity.

“How exactly are you different, Mr president, from the predecessor? Phala Phala is fast becoming your Nkandla and it is forever going to be an ugly stain on this presidency,” Steenhuisen told Ramaphosa.

READ: Watch | Malema blasts Ramaphosa, accuses him of defeating the ends of justice

Other opposition leaders such as ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe also called for Ramaphosa to be transparent, and to clear his conscious. Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald called on Ramaphosa to put the people of South Africa first and tell them the real facts.

Groenewald said:

I want to appeal to you that if you say you put the people of South Africa first tell them the truth because truth will always win at the end of the day.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina, responding to the budget speech, said the ANC was not “shy” to say it has noted the allegations levelled against Ramaphosa.

Majodina said, however, that the matter must be allowed to be investigated by the relevant law enforcement authorities without any “undue political influence”.

“We are happy that the president has committed to support the work of the law enforcement agencies. He is not running away; he is from here and he will listen to them.

“The president has never said he must not be investigated. As the ANC we will not be associated with anyone’s scandal and in the right time when all processes have been followed the ANC will speak.

“If there is any evidence then the law must take its course,” she said.

READ: Ramaphosa must explain 'hoarding of millions', say opposition parties

While the Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said the “most scary thing” was that there were very few people who were worried “about the access in the precinct or the residence of the president which threatened his security”.

“Not a single one is speaking about that and there is an access which still has to be investigated. Secondly, he is robbed and thirdly he must be the one who must be put in the adjudication spot,” Gungubele said.

DISRUPTION

Earlier in the day it took Ramaphosa more than an hour to finally deliver his budget vote in parliament.

Ramaphosa stood in the podium for just about a minute, and as soon as he concluded his greetings, the first point of order came from the EFF.

After that, it was an hour of screaming, points of order and a calling of names among members of parliament (MPs).

Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was preoccupied with making ruling after ruling and asking for MPs to behave. In the end, in the first round of disruption, four members of the EFF who were in the chamber were taken out by parliamentary security while the party’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, was removed on the virtual platform.

“You are stupid.”

“These people are high.”

“This is not your house.”

“Murderer.”

“Criminal.”

“Money launderer.”

“You are a popayi.”

These are some of the words that were thrown around by MPs, mostly from the EFF and the ANC, while Ramaphosa waited to be allowed by Mapisa-Nqakula to continue with his speech.

READ: Dikeledi Molatoli | New Dawn: An era of white lies and white-collar crime

EFF MP Anthony Matumba was the first to rise on a point of order, just a minute after Ramaphosa began his speech, indicating that Parliament cannot be addressed by Ramaphosa whom he said suffered from “intellectual intelligence syndrome”.

Matumba said if the president was allowed to address Parliament:

He will infect us with acquired intellectual intelligence syndrome.

ANC MPs took offence to Matumba’s utterances, and they accused him of insulting the party.

“That buffoon must sit down,” shouted an ANC MP

“He is the one suffering from whatever he is talking about,” shouted another ANC MP.

The EFF MPs were adamant that they were not going to be addressed by a “money launderer”. Malema announced that the EFF would leave the virtual platform. They left and Ramaphosa started his speech.

However, in the middle of his speech another EFF MP – Babalwa Mathulelwa – entered the chamber and demanded that parliament unmute EFF MPs who were on the virtual platform.

She further accused Ramaphosa of being a “thief” and a “murderer” who should leave parliament. In the end, she was also dragged out of the chamber by security.


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Bongekile Macupe  

Senior Education Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
Bongekile.macupe@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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