South African President embarrassed by dark burglary case

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will be playing his way to the top of the country in the coming months, was weakened this week by allegations that he had bought the silence of thieves who fell on insane sums of cash at one of its properties. Were.

His office issued a statement on Saturday evening to try to explain that “despite the public interest and concern” surrounding the matter, the president “remains firmly focused on the task of rebuilding the economy and the country”.

Mr Ramaphosa, 69, who succeeded President Jacob Zuma in 2018, implicated in a series of corruption scandals, “confirms that he is not involved in any criminal conduct”.

The President, at the head of a substantial personal fortune and required in the fight against corruption, undertakes “once again” to cooperate “fully” in any investigation. But the president has warned that he will “not be able” to go into the details of the case, leaving the police and justice to do their jobs.

It all started in February 2020, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday at the Johannesburg Police Station by Arthur Fraser, the former South African intelligence chief.

Thieves broke into Mr Ramaphosa’s farm in the north-east of the country, where they found cash, worth about 3.8 million euros, hidden in furniture.

The complaint accuses Mr. Ramaphosa of concealing the theft from the police and the money from the tax authorities. She also claims that the president may have paid the thieves “for their silence”.

Mr Fraser, who says he provided “photos, bank accounts, names and videos” to police, accused Ramaphosa of “obstructing justice” and of “kidnapping suspects, their inquiries into his property and his corruption”. . ,

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– fragile within the ANC –

On Thursday, the president had confirmed “an armed robbery” at Sri Ramaphosa’s animal reserve in Limpopo (northeast), “during which the product of the sale of cattle was stolen”. The president, who was attending an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, was not present at the time.

“After receiving information about the theft”, Mr Ramaphosa reported the incident to the head of the Police Presidential Security Unit for investigation, detailing the presidency.

In the early 2000s, after a past as a federalist against the hated apartheid regime, Ramaphosa, considered Nelson Mandela’s “favourite son” before being sacked from his succession as head of the ANC, took on a formidable Left politics to become a businessman. ,

This ambitious man from a modest background in Soweto, was ranked 42nd in 2015 on Forbes’ list of the greatest fortunes in Africa, with around €400 million. He then developed an expensive hobby of raising rare cattle and owned several farms.

The African National Congress (ANC) will have to decide by December whether to retain Mr Ramaphosa as president into 2024.

“It’s not going to be easy,” political analyst Rebon Tau told AFP. “Ramaphosa is struggling to consolidate his power within the ANC” and this latest case is already “a problem for Cyril”, as many South Africans call him familiar.

“Is he still popular?” asks Mr. Tau, a former youth worker of the ANC. Nothing is less certain, while unemployment remains high, prices at the pump are rising and the country faces several economic challenges.

Had his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki or Jacob Zuma, easily won a second term, the 2021 local elections would see the ANC fall below 50% for the first time. “Warned Rebon Tau, by Cyril Ramaphosa.

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