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Ramaphosa delays parliament appearance over ‘Farmgate’ scandal

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has plunged further into crisis, a day after an independent panel appointed by parliament said there was evidence suggesting the South African president committed “serious misconduct” after millions of dollars in cash were reportedly stolen from his private game ranch almost three years ago.

Ramaphosa was expected to answer questions in South Africa’s parliament on Thursday but postponed his appearance, saying he needed time to consider the panel’s timing.

The South African rand has fallen sharply with fears growing of a protracted period of political instability that will hold back reforms to boost the country’s flagging economy.

Ramaphosa, who came into power in 2019, has been accused of holding undeclared foreign currency, tax evasion, failing to inform police about the robbery and misusing state resources by ordering his presidential guards to track down culprits who then appear to have been paid off.

Ramaphosa however denies any wrongdoing and has welcomed a separate police inquiry into the allegations, nicknamed Farmgate by local media.

Opposition MPs have called on Ramaphosa to vacate office.

Parliamentarians will vote next week on whether to initiate formal impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa, an unprecedented step since a new constitution was adopted in South Africa after the fall of racist, repressive apartheid regime 28 years ago.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas