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S.A: Is Ramaphosa facing a "crisis of credibility"?

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa touches his head during the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, in Johannesburg, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.   -  
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Sumaya Hisham/AP -

South Africa

The country’s former spy chief leveled allegations of kidnapping and corruption against the South African president last week. "The president is facing a crisis of credibility and cannot hide behind procedural smokescreens" the opposition party's leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing a criminal investigation after a revelation that he failed to report a theft from his farm in northern Limpopo province, surfaced last week.

Allegations of kidnapping and corruption were levelled against the president by the country’s former spy chief, Arthur Fraser.

In South Africa it is illegal not to report a crime and according to Fraser’s affidavit, Ramaphosa tried to conceal the theft, which happened in February 2020 when he was attending an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

If Ramaphosa confirmed theft, he claims that he reported it to the head of his VIP Protection unit, who did not report it to the police.

Several opposition parties have called for a full investigation into the theft, including whether the amount of foreign currency allegedly stolen had been declared to the South African Revenue Service.

The United Democratic Movement, has called on Ramaphosa to take a “leave of absence” while Parliament probes the incident, saying it is not prudent for it to do so while he was in office.

Re-election bid

Arthur Fraser who filed the complaint alleges at least $4m were involved in the theft. But Ramaphosa objected to the claim, pointing at an amount "far less than what seen in the press". Yet, he did not give a specific amount.

Ramaphosa was addressing a provincial conference of the ruling party, the ANC over the weekend.

Speaking about the incident for the first time over the weekend, the President said the cash was "from buying and selling animals" on his farm.

Some of Ramaphosa’s supporters denounce the timing of the revelation as part of efforts to derail his reelection bid as party president in December.

Loyalty battle?

The information about the theft was revealed by Fraser, the former head of South Africa's intelligence, who is known to be loyal to former President Jacob Zuma.

Fraser controversially approved Zuma’s release from prison on medical parole last year, an action that is now being contested in court as illegal. Zuma had been sent to prison last year after he was convicted of defying the Constitutional Court by refusing to testify at a judicial inquiry probing allegations of corruption during his presidential term from 2009 to 2018.

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