‘Ramaphosa is being persecuted for being the victim of a crime’
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe springs to president’s defence and says he won’t be stepping aside
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe has defended President Cyril Ramaphosa over allegations that he covered up a robbery at his farm, saying he was being persecuted for being a victim of crime and would not be taking leave of absence.
The ANC believes Ramaphosa should remain in his position until all investigations, which are likely to include the SA Revenue Service, the Reserve Bank and the Hawks, are concluded, Mantashe told TimesLIVE. Ramaphosa wouldn’t resign because he hasn’t been charged with any offence, he added.
Former state security head Arthur Fraser last week laid a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa for breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by allegedly not reporting the robbery at his Pahla Phala farm in Limpopo in 2020.
“I’m having a very interesting WhatsApp message that’s doing the rounds that says it’s something else that today we don’t have a president who’s accused of stealing from the state but a president who was robbed himself [but is being persecuted],” Mantashe said.
“I love the idea that says here the president of the ANC is not accused of stealing, the allegation is that his money was stolen, now there will be processes that will culminate in a number of issues: let’s say Sars for example — we will wait for them to make a determination, but what are you taxed on when money is stolen?”
The second issue “would be something like a determination by the Reserve Bank that you had foreign currency that came in here that was not declared, but what do you declare when it is stolen? So all the issues will depend on the processes, and my own view is that let’s give these processes space to determine what direction is taken.”
Another senior ANC official, who declined to be identified, said Ramaphosa would not be pushed into stepping aside.
“You know there is a joke doing the rounds that this is the first president that money was stolen from and he didn't steal from taxpayers, but he’s persecuted,” said the official, who is a member of the party’s national executive committee and national working committee.
“So the guy didn’t steal, he was robbed. So you rob the president, he doesn’t rob you and then you want to prosecute him.”
Ramaphosa had reported the matter to his VIP protection unit which forms part of the police service, the official said, adding that precise details of the robbery remained unclear.
“You need to be sure how much money was there [at the farm]. If you say it’s $4m because that guy says $4m to $8m, but you need to have proof that is indeed the [amount of] money.
“How do you prove that? Did somebody take a picture, because if you’re relying on those photos on the video of those intruders, surely you’re not going to be able to tell whether that is dollars or ... something in R10 notes ... maybe it was 4-million Zimbabwean dollars. So it’s a very difficult case to prove how much money was there. He [Ramaphosa] has already said on record that it is far, far less. So it is really unlikely that he can even think about leaving.”
Still, Mantashe said the ANC was expecting a hostile response during the presidency budget vote in parliament later on Thursday.
“We receive a hostile reception even if we are just delivering a budget vote. It happens all the time, so there’s nothing new I’m expecting from parliament. I will be shocked if there’s no hostile reception. When we deliver Sona [the state of the nation address] we get a hostile reception, so what is new?
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