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Julius Malema slams SARB report for ‘protecting’ President Ramaphosa

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses the media on August 2 following the party’s 10th anniversary celebration on July 29 from their headquarters at Winnie Mandela House in the Johannesburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses the media on August 2 following the party’s 10th anniversary celebration on July 29 from their headquarters at Winnie Mandela House in the Johannesburg CBD. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 28, 2023


Johannesburg - EFF leader Julius Malema has rejected the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) Phala Phala farm report, which cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of wrongdoing following the theft of more than $500 000 in American dollars from his Limpopo farm, which were allegedly stolen by a group of Namibian nationals in February 2020.

Malema, who was addressing the media in Kempton Park on Sunday, said the report by Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago was a fallacy aimed at protecting Ramaphosa.

He said Kganyago has messed up the institution by trying to protect the president.

“It is Lesetja Kganyago who has created that mess and is trying to protect one man. The Reserve Bank report is a fallacy, and its intention is to undermine that institution and protect one individual. Lesetja Kganyago says there’s no formal transaction. What is a formal transaction because Ntaba Nyoni produced a receipt? There is a receipt indicating that there was a transaction. The president himself said there was a transaction. You as journalists went to interview a man in Dubai who said he came to South Africa to buy buffaloes, and Kganyago decides in one day to destroy all of his good legacy in defence of one man,” he said.

Malema said the party will take the report under review, adding that the SARB has found that no exchange control laws were violated in the reported “transaction” between Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm and a Sudanese businessman for 20 buffalo.

Businessman Hazim Mustafa said he paid $580 000 for the sale of the buffalo, which were not delivered.

Malema said there was proof that Ramaphosa engaged in the transaction of foreign currency.

“We reject with contempt the SARB cover-up of the Phala Phala crimes and unlawful smuggling of foreign currency. We will take the SARB report on the Phala Phala dollars to court for judicial review because there was an attempt to cover up crimes committed in Phala Phala and state institutions are being abused to protect one man,” he said.

The EFF has become the latest party to challenge the report legally after the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) objected to the report.

Last week, the Reserve Bank published the limited findings of its investigation into the matter on August 21, where the matter was seemingly set aside on a technicality.

The investigation focused on the Phala Phala buffalo transaction that took place before the alleged theft of millions of rand in foreign currency.

The biggest talking point has been the source of the money since the scandal broke, with the president claiming in 2022 that it came from a typical sale on the farm, where Sudanese businessman Mustafa purchased 20 buffalo.

The transaction in question – $580 000 – and the questionable way in which the money was allegedly kept raised eyebrows after Arthur Fraser opened a case with the Rosebank police in June last year.

However, the SARB, after a similar report by the acting public protector, said it found that, based on the facts available, there was no violation of the country’s exchange control laws because there was no “perfected transaction” to require a declaration on the part of the farm.

In its findings, the central bank concluded that the transaction in question was “subject to conditions precedent, which were not fulfilled”.

“More plainly, the buffalo purchased with the money were never delivered; thus, the Phala Phala farm (Nyoni Estates CC) was not entitled to the money in the first place and didn’t meet the conditions necessary to declare it.

“Thus, the SARB cannot conclude that there was any contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations (the applicable regulation is Regulation 6(1)) by Ntaba Nyoni Estates CC (the entity involved) or, for that matter, by the president,” it said.

The bank further said that, due to legislative requirements and constraints that apply to the SARB, the SARB’s report into the matter is a private internal report and will not be made available to the public.

The Financial Surveillance Department (FinSurv) of the SARB conducted its investigation in two phases.

According to the Reserve Bank, their investigation considered dozens of documents and related information, running into hundreds of pages.

The Reserve Bank said it also obtained and considered no less than 15 affidavits or statements, liaised with other relevant authorities, and undertook formal interviews with relevant parties.

The Star