By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - An independent panel tasked with establishing whether South African President Cyril Ramaphosa should face impeachment over an alleged criminal coverup handed its report to the speaker of parliament Wednesday.
It emerged in the middle of this year that Ramaphosa had concealed information about the theft two years ago of more than $4 million in cash from his private game farm in Limpopo province.
Former South African intelligence chief Arthur Fraser brought the matter to public knowledge when he filed a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa, accusing him of money laundering and not reporting the robbery at his farm.
A three-member panel led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo was established in September to assess whether Ramaphosa had done anything wrong. Its findings were handed over to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who will make them public on Dec. 6.
Ramaphosa, who will be seeking reelection as leader of the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) next month, has denied any wrongdoing. He said the stolen money was the “proceeds from the sale of game” at his farm and not from taxpayers.
“I have never stolen taxpayers’ money. I want to reaffirm that I was not involved in any criminal conduct,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s spokesman said earlier this month that he would “step aside” if he is charged for the alleged criminal coverup.
“Should the president be charged, he will gladly step aside,” Vincent Magwenya told reporters in the capital Pretoria.