Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has announced that her office has commenced investigations against President Cyril Ramaphosa following a complaint laid by African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula.
In a statement on Wednesday (8 June), Mkhwebane said the complaint alleges that Ramaphosa has breached the Executive Code of Ethics.
The complaint relates to allegations that Ramaphosa concealed a February 2020 theft at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo by allegedly not reporting the crime to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and bribing the suspects for their silence.
Former State Security Agency (SSA) Director-General Arthur Fraser made the claims in a criminal case he opened against Ramaphosa last week. He alleged that at least $4 million was stolen from the President’s farm.
He accused Ramaphosa of defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping, bribery, and violating the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act.
The President has maintained his innocence, insisting that there is no basis for Fraser’s claims of criminal conduct against him. He also suggested that the allegations, dubbed “farmgate” scandal, are part of a “disinformation campaign.”
Letter to Ramaphosa
While Fraser’s case is based on alleged criminal conduct, Zungula’s complaint focuses on alleged breaches of the Executive Code of Ethics which the constitution empowers the Public Protector to investigate.
“The investigation concerning Mr Zungula, MP’s complaint has commenced, with allegations letters already written to sources of information, including President Ramaphosa,” Mkhwebane said.
This is Mkhwebane’s second major investigation against the President. The first concerned allegations that Ramaphosa had misled Parliament in the wake of the CR17 campaign funding controversy. Although she found that Ramaphosa had violated the Code of Ethics in several respects, he ultimately succeeded in setting aside her report via judicial review.
The latest scandal has fuelled calls for the President to “come clean” and step aside from his position as investigations unfold. EFF leader Julius Malema led the calls during a press conference on Tuesday (7 June).
“We are not factionalists of any political organisation, who can be bought with illegal money into silence. Enough is enough, Ramaphosa must step aside,” Malema said. He threatened that the EFF will disrupt Ramaphosa’s Presidency Budget Vote speech slated for Thursday in Parliament.
However, there is little indication that the President intends to step aside. A statement from the Presidency confirmed on Wednesday that he will present the Budget Vote.