Ramaphosa dodges the bullet with Phala Phala looming over his head

President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to the Sona debate at the Cape Town City Hall. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa responds to the Sona debate at the Cape Town City Hall. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 16, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphos is all smiles now. And why shouldn’t he be?

For several months the Phala Phala scandal hung like the sword of Democles over his head. Now he has been cleared and vindicated by both the Public Protector and Sars.

So relieved was he that he immediately took to the streets in Stanger and Pietermaritzburg urging residents to register and vote for the ANC. ‘The ANC will give you jobs,’ he promised. How many times have the poor masses heard that old, scratchy song?

The preliminary report from the acting Public Protector Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka clears the president of any wrong doing on his Limpopo farm, putting most of the blame for the debacle on his henchmen, largely on Major-General Wally Rhoode.

It is an indicator of what’s to come in the final report. If so, it is highly unlikely that Advocate Gcaleka would change anything substantially in her final report to implicate the president.

So we might as well accept that Ramaphosa has eluded the net and got away with the hidden dollars under his couch. Sars has also come to rescue the president, saying the president was tax compliant.

Yet in the same breath, it confirmed that the dirty dollars hidden under the couch were not declared to the Revenue Services. Doesn’t that constitute a tax offence, especially so, if the leader of a nation does it?

A dark, black cloud still hangs over Phala Phala. Several questions come to mind, the first of which is whether Advoctate Gcaleka was compromised in any way? Is she a Ramaphosa lackey?

As an acting advocate perhaps she didn’t want to rub the president the wrong way. Did she catch the small fish but let the big one get away? And if the dollars hidden on the farm were the proceeds of the sale of livestock why are the cattle still on the farm three years after they were sold?

Like the arms deal commission, the state capture inquiry, the Eskom saga and the long running Zuma corruption trial, could Phala Phala be another one that gets swept under the carpet?

But there are several insiders who know the truth about Phala Phala. Unless they are handsomely rewarded for their allegiance and silence, what if one of them, especially Maj Gen Rhoode, spill the beans one day? In this dirty game of politics and dollars you never can tell. But it may come too late. The horse could have bolted by then.