President Cyril Ramaphosa’s critics, led by presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Friday called on him to step aside over the Phala Phala farm robbery fiasco.
ANC NEC meeting
Ramaphosa reportedly discussed Phala Phala during his opening speech on the first day of the African National Congress (ANC) NEC meeting being held at Nasrec Expo Centre, south of Johannesburg, on Friday.
Leading the charge at the NEC meeting were supporters of the radical economic transformation (RET) faction led by Dlamini-Zuma, former Cosatu president and small business development Deputy Minister Sidumo Dlamini, staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma Tony Yengeni and ANC MP Tandi Mahambehlala.
“He gives a report and the next he says he’s been selling these buffaloes for years. Then he says he has declared but he couldn’t explain why he banks his money in the mattress. Then they went for him on that. They then stopped discussions, because it was getting hot. They said we’ll continue tomorrow,” TimesLIVE quoted an insider saying at the meeting.
Phala Phala farm robbery
Ramaphosa, who is looking to win a second term in December, has been under pressure to publicly explain what happened at his Phala Phala game farm, where cash in foreign currency was stolen during a burglary in 2020.
The details of the robbery were first reported by former spy boss Arthur Fraser, who opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa this year, accusing him of breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by not reporting the robbery.
Following the revelations, opposition parties and factions within the ANC put pressure on the president to answer to South Africans or resign from his post.
The cash was reported to have come from a businessman who went to the game farm to purchase a buffalo.
Ramaphosa denies wrongdoing
Denying any wrongdoing again on Friday, Ramaphosa told NEC members that he “could not have known that those at his farm then kept the money in couches and mattresses”.
However, his critics remarked that the scandal has trashed the party’s public image, and that him remaining at the helm, would impede the work of investigative agencies probing Phala Phala.
This weekend’s NEC meeting is the first face-to-face gathering in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is also the NEC’s last gathering ahead of the party’s national elective conference to be held on 16-20 December at the venue.
Among other reports, the governing party’s integrity committee is expected to table its own reports on Saturday, including that of Ramaphosa and Phala Phala.
The meeting will conclude on Sunday.