Ramaphosa on the ropes – As President remains calm over Farmgate, RET faction plots his demise

Ramaphosa on the ropes – As President remains calm over Farmgate, RET faction plots his demise
President Cyril Ramaphosa presents the Budget Vote at the National Assembly Plenary Sitting at the Good Hope Chamber in Parliament on 9 June 2022. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The opening of a criminal case against President Cyril Ramaphosa has come at a most inconvenient time for the ANC as it holds its crucial provincial conferences. Ramaphosa’s enemies in the ANC and opposition parties such as the EFF and UDM are baying for blood. Some in the RET faction have started a #RamaphosaMustFall hashtag on social media networks.

The public furore over the burglary of allegedly millions of dollars hidden in sofa cushions at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Limpopo game farm was already reaching fever pitch when a delegation of secretaries and chairpersons from all eleven KwaZulu-Natal ANC regions descended on Nkandla on Tuesday, 7 June, to confer with and receive “wisdom” from former president Jacob Zuma.

The saga – which began when Zuma ally and former spy boss Arthur Fraser opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa at the Rosebank Police Station on Wednesday, June 1 – caught the ANC and its alliance structures unprepared.

The allegations came at a time when the ANC is holding crucial provincial conferences, with the North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State conferences still outstanding. The Western Cape ANC region has also not yet held its provincial elective conference, owing to instability. Before the allegations against him surfaced, Ramaphosa appeared to hold a seemingly unassailable lead, having been endorsed by Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, with the Northern Cape also in his corner.

It was never going to be a shoo-in for Ramaphosa, with so much at stake for Zuma and the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction.

The first salvo in what some RET faction members say are many more attacks on Ramaphosa’s credibility was Fraser’s allegation that he had provided police with evidence showing that Ramaphosa had concealed a crime on his Limpopo farm involving a theft of “in excess of four million US dollars” and that the suspects had been kidnapped and interrogated.

The Hawks have taken over the investigation and, before Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was suspended by Ramaphosa on 9 June, she had confirmed that her office was investigating after African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula had lodged a complaint against Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa has defended himself, saying the stolen cash was the proceeds from the sale of the animals he breeds on the farm, and he has not done anything illegal. He has also committed himself to cooperating with all the investigations and has voluntarily approached the ANC’s Integrity Commission to state his case.

The manner in which the ANC handles and reacts to allegations made against Cyril Ramaphosa will be a true litmus test of his popularity within the party.

So far, the President has enjoyed support from many of his allies in the party, which clearly explains why he has not stepped aside from his position and is rather appearing before the ANC’s Integrity Commission.

The party’s National Working Committee held a meeting on 6 June where the matter was discussed – but only because Tony Yengeni insisted on it. Party insiders said that the matter was never on the agenda, but that Yengeni protested until other members of the committee agreed. He was at the forefront of the discussion slanting towards Ramaphosa having to step aside, but was outvoted by others on the committee.

A National Executive Committee (NEC) member who is not aligned to Ramaphosa told Daily Maverick that it is time the President faced the music.

“Money laundering and tax evasion are a very serious transgression; he must just do the honourable thing and step side,” said the senior party member.

A close ally of the President described him as being “calm” and “unbothered” throughout the backlash he is receiving within the party and from the public.

Ramaphosa’s ally raised concerns that the “unexpected” revelations about the President came to light only because it is an ANC elective conference and went on to call it a “counterattack” against Ramaphosa’s efforts to fight corruption.

On the morning of 9 June, NEC member Nkenke Kekana called in to Radio 702 in his own capacity, backing Ramaphosa. He argued that there are more pressing matters that the country has to deal with.

“Out of nowhere, Arthur goes to Rosebank Police Station and says there is this and we just take it in. All of a sudden there is a trial in the media about all this, without any investigation.

“I just find it ridiculous that we are obsessed with individuals in the country, when we have really big issues that need to be confronted,” Kekana insisted.

He then reiterated his stance about the reportage of the story, saying that journalists have so far failed to interrogate Fraser’s allegations thoroughly.

“All that I am saying is that when it comes to the world of Arthur Fraser, there is smoke and mirrors. The intention is to create instability and doubt in the country’s leadership. I am not saying the President should not answer, he should answer and there is an investigation and we should respect that and the President should give answers to all the questions. You are already stating it as facts that $4-million to $8-million is a lot of money. Did he provide some kind of proof, for us to start putting the figure as fact?” he said.

Ramaphosa’s enemies in the ANC and opposition parties such as the EFF and UDM are baying for blood.

Some in the RET faction have started a #RamaphosaMustFall hashtag on social media networks.

One of the ANC regional leaders who met Zuma this week and is part of the RET faction, who asked not to be named, said now that Ramaphosa has been wounded, they are going to finish him off politically.

“We are now exposing him for what he is. There is going to be one scandal after another and I don’t see him standing for re-election in December,” he said.

On the contrary, the SACP stood firmly in Ramaphosa’s corner, with Alex Mashilo, SACP spokesperson and member of the party’s Central Executive Committee, saying the SACP welcomed the President coming forward and saying he would cooperate with the investigation.

“It is critical that he does so and does so resolutely,” Mashilo said, adding that there are many across the political spectrum who are jumping to say that President Ramaphosa must fall so that they can achieve their own political goals.

“We see this as part and parcel of a strategy of those who are in contestation with the President,” said Mashilo. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25. 



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    I don’t agree with all this hype at all. Maybe all those that criticize Ramaphosa, including ALL the opposition parties, should explain what exactly is wrong with Ramaphosa wanting the law enforcement agencies to deal with it. Did anyone ever think of the possibility that Ramaphosa himself may not really know what is going on? After all it was already said that he does not know exactly how much money was stolen. And as we all know, he spends his time in the Union Buildings and Cape Town. He must have a farm manager to manage all the farm business, because there is no way that he will be able to do that and be President at the same time. So do we now want him to waste his time contributing to the speculation? Besides, Arthur Fraser has previously did the same more than once – taking a few facts that can be verified and taking it out of context to create a false narrative. No, I think the President is doing the right thing to wait for the law enforcement agencies. And although we know that we should hold the executive to account, this is actually not the time, precisely because of where this story comes from – holding someone to account is not the same as being used as pawns to confuse society. Once the law enforcement agencies report the facts, there will be enough time to ventilate this. You may then well find that those that were involved in the wrongdoing were not him, but others – maybe even Fraser himself included. But then we shall know, not be listening to speculation.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    I think what everybody should really be worried about is that safety of the State President. The whole story clearly shows that the persons that is supposed to keep him safe, does not have his well-being in mind at all. After all, this Rhoode guy who is in control of it, comes from the Fraser group; and the whole nature of the story clearly shows that it is not meant to benefit him; after all some of them have been co-operating with Fraser. And they are supposed to safequard others also. Is it not time that the whole lot be fired and trustworthy people be put in their place? In this regard the whole of SA should be mindful of what happened to Verwoerd. That can happen to Ramaphosa also, not to mention others. I am also thinking of the fact that Jeremy Vearey was killed because of those who he trusted to safeguard him could obviously not be trusted. I think we are focusing on all the wrong issues.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    “Some in the RET faction have started a #RamaphosaMustFall hashtag on social media networks.”

    Is misleading in my view.

    This publication has been reported on #RamaphosaMustFall as a hashtag since 10 July 2018.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Irrespective of Ramaphosa’s guilt or otherwise, an ex-security boss surely is prevented by law to make public what he has learnt related to the position he/she held. Why is there no charge of treason against Fraser?

  • André Pelser says:

    Foreign currency can be kept for 30 days in South Africa before deposit or exchange. The Namibian aspect of this case is intriguing. But this matter was handled very poorly by the president’s staff and security at Phala Phala farm was alarmingly lax. Fraser’s involvement is that of an agent provocateur, but unfortunately the credibility of our investigative authorities is at an all time low. Hopefully our investigative journalists will uncover the truth. In the interim South Africans should stand firm and ensure that internal ANC squabbles do not destabilise our country, which is bigger, and more important, than the ANC.

  • Stephen T says:

    I’m no fan of Ramaphosa and I despise the ANC as a movement, but he is correct that the investigation must be allowed to run its course. Calling for him to step aside already is jumping the gun way too early. The timing of this ‘revelation’ is far suspiciously convenient to overlook and stinks of political meddling.

    At the end of the day, this is small potatoes compared to what the Zumites pilfered. Microscopic, in fact. Those worms stole away the future of this country and without a shred of remorse. Even if Ramaphosa is found guilty of some transgression, is it really in the same category as State Capture? I do not believe so. We should be careful of where we choose to direct our displeasure, for there are many in the RET faction that would profit greatly from a distraction such as this.

  • Nicholas De Villiers says:

    There should be no more talk of renewal in the ANC. It is clear Ramaphosa is just about the only one in the party who cares about South Africa. And even he doesn’t care enough to put SA first. The voters must get rid of this criminal cabal before they destroy what’s left of the country.

  • Keith Scott says:

    Nkenke Kekana takes a cheap shot at the media who simply reported the actions of former spy boss Arthur Fraser – news that was vitally important under the circumstances. If the media had not reported it, that would have been self-censorship. Moreover, by failing to publicly give his side of the story the president has only himself to blame if the facts become rumour and supposition.

    • anton kleinschmidt says:

      Agreed, but the media must confine themselves to reporting the facts and not play into the hands of those who would like to unseat Ramaphosa and regain the levers of power. Right now there is a frenzy of media speculation at the hands of those with a deadline to beat

  • anton kleinschmidt says:

    If this debacle leads to the RET / EFF faction taking over the ANC and the government, then I hope that the media (Daily Maverick in particular) will consider their role played in bringing about the calamity. We are at a perilous crossroads.

  • Craig B says:

    The actions of commissions and investigations etc seem to point toward Ramaphosa being dishonest. If it was a straight forward transaction Ramaphosa would just tell us. Unfortunately it looks like a boris Johnson affair of populist dishonesty. We can only hope Ramaphosa says something substantial but by the looks of things he is not going to. It won’t be the first time he turns a blind eye to malfeasance …… he’s as much into buying votes at the anc as the other side by the looks of things.

  • Sue van der Walt says:

    President Rhamaposa is a billionaire and the president of South Africa. Surely that is sufficient power and money to satisfy him?

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