Cyril Ramaphosa: A Brief Guide to South Africa’s Farmgate Scandal

Cyril Ramaphosa: A Brief Guide to South Africa’s Farmgate Scandal

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  • December 3, 2022
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South African President Cyril RamaphosaImage source, Reuters

A scandal threatens to end South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s political career – if you haven’t heard the details, here’s what you need to know.

Ramaphosa was a close ally of Mandela

Cyril Ramaphosa, 70, became President of South Africa in 2018, having been active in the fight against white minority rule – apartheid – since the 1970s and having been close to liberation hero Nelson Mandela.

He campaigned against corruption

Mr Ramaphosa rose to the top by promising to crack down on corruption – but now he himself is facing questions over a large sum of money found on his property.

Now he is accused of cover-up

The scandal revolves around claims the president was trying to cover up the theft of half a million dollars – possibly more – hidden in the back of a sofa at his farmhouse. That has led to questions about where the money came from.

He denies wrongdoing

The President denies claims up to $4million (£3.3million) was taken. He says the amount stolen was $580,000 — and he got it for selling buffalo.

But the allegations are not gone

An independent panel investigated the allegations for the South African Parliament and concluded that the President may have broken the law and abused his position. But that’s just the beginning of a process.

His party is divided over what should happen

President Ramaphosa’s African National Congress party is deciding what to do now. A top party member has said not to quit, but there are others in the party who are urging him to leave.

Parliament could try to remove it

Even if his own party supports him, MPs in South Africa’s parliament could find Mr Ramaphosa guilty of serious misconduct and hold a vote to remove him from office. But that requires a two-thirds majority, and ANC MPs would likely block it.

Some think he will stop

Rather than face indictment, some commentators believe Mr Ramaphosa will resign and return to his cattle station. But it’s believed his ANC allies want him to reconsider so they can organize an orderly transition.

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