Disturbing reply by governor of SA Reserve Bank on Phala Phala

The Phala Phala ‘investigation’ has gained significant attention. Graphic

The Phala Phala ‘investigation’ has gained significant attention. Graphic

Published Sep 1, 2023


Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Lesetja Kganyago briefed Parliament this week on the findings of the Phala Phala report, which was meant to clear the president from the cloud of potential money laundering and violation of exchange control, but has instead sent shockwaves through the nation, created more questions than answers and raised concerns about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reputation.

The continued cloud that hangs over the president’s head, has made international headlines and prompted discussions about whether the president should continue to maintain a bank account, given the potential reputational risks – to the banks and to the country – not that a bank account was useful in this situation since the money – $580 000 (R11m) in cash – was hidden in the his furniture.

The Phala Phala ‘investigation’ has gained significant attention.

It tracks a series of events around the payment of a “holding deposit” for some of the president’s prized buffalo, but the money was rather fortuitously “stolen” before the president needed to declare it to the SARB and SA Revenue Services.

The Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), Lesetja Kganyago, on Wednesday briefed parliament on the SARB investigation into allegations that President Cyril Ramaphosa contravened Exchange Control Regulations by holding US dollars at his farm for a period exceeding legislated limits. Screengrab - Parliament Youtube channel

However, SARB is not releasing the full report so we are still none the wiser about what was uncovered.

Further, also rather conveniently, Kganyago revealed that the transaction was not completed as certain conditions of sale (no-one is saying what those are), were not completed, therefore the deal was a no-go.

However, the buyer of the buffalo still wants them. Business Report has already raised questions as to how this amount of cash was brought into the country.

In response to questions around the report, Kganyago this week delivered a response that has left many disturbed. His answer to questions suggested that the SARB would not take immediate actions to freeze or investigate Ramaphosa's bank accounts, despite the serious nature of the continued uncertainty as to what really happened.

This response has fuelled public outrage, and raised questions about the institution’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the financial system.

The president’s actions, whether proven true or false, could have far-reaching consequences for the nation's reputation, economic stability, and global relationships. Allowing him to continue operating a bank account within the country's financial system might expose the system to potential reputational risks and undermine its credibility on an international scale.

In light of the disturbing response from the Governor of the Reserve Bank, various sectors of society have called for decisive action to address the situation and ensure accountability.

Civil society organisations, political opponents, and concerned citizens are demanding a transparent and thorough investigation into the allegations against Ramaphosa.

They argue that maintaining the status quo not only risks the reputation of the financial system, but also undermines public trust in the country's institutions.

Yet more smoke and mirrors in South Africa’s endless game of financial hide and seek…

Adri Senekal de Wet is the executive editor of Business Report