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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Trouble predicted for Ramaphosa, despite PP clearing him of wrongdoing

As ANC and South Africa's president Ramaphosa is ‘untouchable’, says one political analyst.

While former intelligence boss Arthur Fraser kept mum on acting Public Protector (PP) advocate Kholeka Gcaleka’s preliminary Phala Phala report seemingly clearing President Cyril Ramaphosa of wrongdoing, a political analyst said the dust was far from settling.

Phala Phala report leaked

The exoneration of Ramaphosa by Gcaleka comes despite the SA Revenue Service (Sars) finding it had no record of the millions in cash said to have been paid to the president’s farm manager in 2019 by Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa being declared upon entry to South Africa.

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Gcaleka found there was no proof Ramaphosa was actively involved in the running of the farm or transgressed the Executive Code of Ethics, merely making adverse findings against police for their handling of the matter.

Under extreme pressure

Independent political analyst Sandile Swana said the Phala Phala saga had put Ramaphosa’s supporters within the ANC “under extreme pressure”.

“One of the problems is that the evidence that is coming out from Sars through the efforts of the DA [Democratic Alliance] has shown that there was wrongdoing. “Opposition parties have called for a parliamentary ad hoc committee – a commission of inquiry with powers to subpoena, determining what the hard facts are.

“The committee may not look at an immediate impeachment of Ramaphosa, but getting detailed facts to be publicly exposed. “As those facts emerged publicly, the support that Ramaphosa has inside the ANC, will be the type of support that Zuma will have had – that you are supported, although there is overwhelming evidence against you.

“We know that support on the basis of impunity is unsustainable, because the party ended up firing Jacob Zuma,” said Swana.

Not ‘completely removed’

He said radical economic transformation (RET) forces had not been “completely removed”. “They are removed in some parts of the ANC, but are still going to be active in opposing Ramaphosa.

He is unlikely to finish his term of office, with the question left [of] whether he will be fired before the 2024 election or after.

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“If the surveys are to be believed, the ANC is now sitting at 40% – despite being told Ramaphosa would have a positive impact in increasing party numbers.

“They now want a new leader. Non-performance is counting against him. The fortunes of Ramaphosa are waning and – regardless of RET forces – pressure against him will come in another form,” Swana said. However, University of South Africa political science Professor Dirk Kotze said there was “no direct threat to the Ramaphosa presidency”.

“While opposition parties are pushing for an ad hoc parliamentary committee, there is very little left to investigate after the PP report.

“That ad-hoc committee will have an ANC majority in its composition, meaning it is unlikely to take a decision against Ramaphosa,” Kotze said.

“Being ANC and SA president makes him untouchable. In its constitution, the ANC does not have a clause of a motion of no confidence to remove its president.”

The panel is investigating whether or not to impeach Ramaphosa over various alleged violations of the constitution and in its first report on 30 November, found there was prima facie evidence there was a deliberate intention not to openly investigate the commission of the crimes committed at Phala Phala.

It also found there was enough evidence to make the case of misconduct based on violations of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Additional reporting Amanda Watson

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