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South Africa’s Ramaphosa awaits ruling in ‘Farmgate’ scandal

south africa's president ramaphosa visits the uk
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fate was hanging in the balance on Monday as the executive committee of the governing party discussed allegations he may have committed misconduct and violated the oath of office.

The inquiry relates to findings that large sums of foreign currency were hidden at Ramaphosa’s private game farm and he failed to report the money missing when it was stolen in 2020.

Ramaphosa has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes. The existence of the cash at the Phala Phala game farm and his failure to report the theft to police only surfaced in June in a scandal dubbed “Farmgate” by the media.

Ramaphosa attended the meeting of the African National Congress National Executive Committee (NEC). He said on Sunday he would accept its decision.

“By lunchtime, depending on where we’ll be on the programme, we will bring the treasurer general to come and do a doorstop with yourselves,” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe told reporters.

He said Ramaphosa attended the meeting, put across his points and then asked to be recused, which the party allowed.

Some Ramaphosa supporters, clad in the colours of the ANC party, braved the rain outside the venue, holding placards that read: “Ramaphosa is our president.”

Having received firm backing from his allies within the party, Ramaphosa has vowed to fight on, with his spokesman saying the allegations against him would be challenged.

Investors fear uncertainty and that any other president could slow down or reverse economic reforms and increase government spending and take on more debt at levels they deem unsustainable.

Despite the doubts raised over Ramaphosa’s integrity, he is still seen by investors at home and abroad as cleaner than any of his rivals.

“The conundrum for the ANC is that recent polls of its supporters show that President Ramaphosa remains its strongest drawcard for national elections,” JP Morgan analysts said in a note to clients.

South Africa’s main opposition liberal Democratic Alliance (DA) party said it had submitted a motion to dissolve the national assembly and reiterated its call for an early election.

“Parliament’s role is precisely to step up at times such as this… It can only do this by dissolving the National Assembly so that the president can call an early election,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.

South Africa’s rand was trading stronger on the day, up 1.77% as of 0949 GMT, as expectations that Ramaphosa might resign were quashed.

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