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‘No dirty dollars’, says Ramaphosa as Phala Phala farm forex saga returns to public spotlight

‘No dirty dollars’, says Ramaphosa as Phala Phala farm forex saga returns to public spotlight
‘I will continue to say there’s no dirty dollars. And I have said in various statements that this has been the result of a transaction as the farmer that I am, who has sold game,’ President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Cape Town on Thursday, 30 March 2023 in the National Council of Provinces question slot. (Photo: GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliamentarians no ‘dirty dollars’ existed in the Phala Phala farm forex saga, days after ANC legislators defeated another special parliamentary probe. Also on Thursday, ex-President Thabo Mbeki’s letter emerged, saying those votes — and the ones against Eskom corruption — were ‘mistakes’.

Mbeki’s letter to ANC Deputy President Paul Mashatile doesn’t mince words — if the ANC believed its president did not do anything wrong, why would the governing party use its numbers in the House to defeat probes by Parliament?

“I would presume that as ANC members we would assume that our president would not do and has not done anything which Parliament should not investigate in the course of the discharge of its constitutional duties,” wrote ex-president Mbeki in the letter, dated 29 March.

dirty dollars phala

President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to questions submitted by members of the National Council of Provinces on 30 March 2023. (Photo: GCIS)

“The puzzle is — Why then did we stop an [ad hoc committee] being formed we would be convinced would exactly establish that our president has not done anything wrong?

“Or are we saying that we suspect or know that he has done something wrong and therefore decided that we must protect our president at all costs by ensuring no [ad hoc committee] is formed?

“If that is the case, what message are we communicating to the masses of our people about the values and integrity of the ANC?”

And if the words on the Phala Phala farm forex saga weren’t sufficiently scathing, sharp criticism followed of the ANC using its numbers to vote down an ad hoc committee into corruption at Eskom.

“It will have come across to this public as very strange and disturbing that when a proposal was made that Parliament should undertake such a focused allegation into the alleged criminality at Eskom, we promptly voted against an eminently correct proposal.”

This all, Mbeki wrote to Mashatile, further alienated the governing party from South Africans, “Why are we taking actions which play straight into the hands of the counter-revolutionary forces?”

Mbeki’s leaked letter stands in contrast to the ANC MPs’ line during the 22 March vote against a Phala Phala ad hoc committee largely on the back of the ongoing criminal Hawks investigation and the SA Reserve Bank probe into exchange control violations.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Phala Phala down: ANC foils parliamentary probe into Ramaphosa scandal despite united opposition

It was the second DA motion for a special parliamentary Phala Phala probe motivated on the back of new developments. The first was voted down in late 2022 after some pushback over parliamentary rules.

Then, on 13 December 2022, the ANC used its numbers in the House to vote against establishing a presidential impeachment inquiry in line with the recommendation of the Section 89 independent panel that President Cyril Ramaphosa had a case to answer.

Eskom corruption probe

The ANC also used its majority in the House to defeat a DA motion on an investigation into Eskom corruption and organised crime as alleged by ex-CEO André de Ruyter.

Instead, De Ruyter will appear before Parliament’s public spending watchdog, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), committee chairperson IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

Mbeki’s wide-ranging letter, also in support of the Constitution, cautions against the ANC simply voting down a matter because it was proposed by the opposition. “[It] cannot be correct to suggest that the ANC has some policy which says that its Members of Parliament must necessarily oppose anything and everything proposed by the opposition.”

ramaphosa ncop

President Cyril Ramaphosa swatted away a question from DA NCOP delegate Dennis Ryder on whether he’d support a parliamentary oversight committee for the Presidency. (Photo: GCIS)

But on Thursday in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) question slot, Ramaphosa held the line he’s taken since the farm forex saga erupted in June 2022 — processes and investigations must run their course, and he’s cooperating.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Phala Phala is fast becoming your Nkandla,’ Steenhuisen tells Ramaphosa in disrupted debate

“I will continue to say there’s no dirty dollars. And I have said in various statements that this has been the result of a transaction as the farmer that I am, who has sold game. That process is being thoroughly looked at. Having opened myself to cooperate with those institutions, we should wait until all those institutions come to a conclusion.”

DA NCOP delegate Cathlene Labuschagne leveraged a question on South Africa’s greylisting by the global anti-money laundering and terror financing monitoring entity (FATF) to ask Ramaphosa about being part of the problem, given the “dirty dollars” — a reference to the dollars stolen from sofa cushions at the President’s Phala Phala farm.

“We should wait for the process to be concluded to come to the type of conclusion that you are alluding to…” responded Ramaphosa.

Earlier, he swatted away a question from DA NCOP delegate Dennis Ryder on whether he’d support a parliamentary oversight committee for the Presidency, which is getting more and more powers, like the electricity minister.

“I trust all my ministers and I trust the leader of government business, my Deputy President… There is oversight. Part of what I am doing now is part of that — I stand here answering questions.”

With the EFF absent, and ANC applause after every answer and standing ovations for both the walk to and from the Speaker’s podium, Ramaphosa’s NCOP Q&A was an overwhelmingly comfortable session. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Derek Jones says:

    I have completely lost faith in Ramaphosa and the ANC. Given the start they had so many years ago, they have not taken SA forward at all. They should have dealt with a failing education system straight away for example. Its been more than 20 years. The nation is now in a shocking state. Corruption and greed dominate everything. Now there are no funds to do any good anywhere anyway. No one can argue that this is not the truth. The ANC have betrayed their proud heritage and their country. Get out of office. Resign. take your precious stolen loot and go. Leave, you are ALL not welcome here.

  • Brian Cotter says:

    There is a recommendation in the Zondo Commission Report for Parliamentary oversight issues for further discussion that MP’s who vote against their Party direction will not be fired as MP’s and expelled from the Party. The campaign should be for the speaker to announce and publish for the citizens (including comrades and cadres) the programme for all the Zondo recommendations to be addressed and implemented with urgency.

    • Brian Cotter says:

      Continuing – Quote Zondo Commission “Part VI-Vol II – 1292.3 states “It is recommended that Parliament should consider whether it would be desirable to enact legislation which protects Members of Parliament from losing their seats in Parliament merely from losing their seats in Parliament merely exercising their oversight duties reasonably and in good faith.”Reasonably and in good faith” translates to the ANC commonly used cliché phrase (apologies to Adolph Ochs) “without fear or favour”.
      Commenting on farmgate on 12 June 22, Cyril said: “Police must investigate without fear or favour”.
      On this basis using the Zondo recommendations and Cyril’s own request to the Police, Parliament should have voted with integrity and honesty on this oversight subject.
      I quote from the Government website “The true test of democracy is the extent to which Parliament can ensure that government remains answerable to the people”. This is done by maintaining constant oversight (monitoring) of government’s actions.
      Parliament and its Committees have powers to summon any person or institution to give evidence or produce documents, and to report to them.
      Ex President Mbeki is correct in his accusations.
      However he has been compromised in the past with many issues, including the role of Chancelor House in State Capture. Old thoughts come to mind for a retaliation from when Cyril R, Mathews P and Tokyo S were accused by Mbeki of wanting to overthrow him.

  • Cherry White says:

    Phala Phala: SARS has confirmed that the company is in compliance, ie, that returns have been submitted and assessments paid. Nothing more.
    SARS has not confirmed that detailed audits have been done for the periods in question, for example, showing over US$580 000 as cash on hand with the purchaser shown as a creditor because he hasn’t received his livestock.
    Has the SA Reserve Bank confirmed that cross-border currency regulations were complied with, at the time, in respect of this transaction?

    • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

      Cherry White writes
      Has the SA Reserve Bank confirmed that cross-border currency regulations were complied with, at the time, in respect of this transaction?
      They have and there was no trace of the money having crossed the border.
      Why would the President pay taxes on an income, which is not an income as the money is not his, it is only in his custody. Sounds fishy to me.

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