By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | CAPETOWN (IDN) — Almost three decades since the end of apartheid, South Africa remains the most unequal country in the world—where the richest 10 per cent of the population owns more than 85% per cent of household wealth—a gap higher than any other country for which sufficient data is available.
So recent revelations of a huge trove of unexplained cash, 60 million rands (over US$4 million in cash) in the home of Cyril Ramaphosa, head of the African National Congress, was particularly shocking and just more evidence of a nation captured by the rich—even those who claimed to be on the side of the poor.
The bills had been hidden in a sofa in Mr Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala wildlife farm in Limpopo but when the monies disappeared two years ago, he never reported it to the police or disclosed it publicly. It would have been an awkward embarrassment on the eve of his expected re-election as an anti-corruption crusader—an election he was poised to easily win.
As questions mounted, Ramaphosa was forced to come forward in a rare press conference to defend himself from journalists seeking an explanation for the latest scandal, dubbed “Farmgate.”
Once a leading trade unionist, Ramaphosa, 69, helped negotiate the end of apartheid and was Nelson Mandela’s preferred successor. After joining the private sector, he amassed a huge fortune working in banking, insurance, telecoms, and the Lonmin mining company when it brutally repressed a worker strike. He returned to the public sector with an estimated wealth of $450 million.
When the latest scandal broke, he attempted to cover his tracks, paying off the alleged thieves and a domestic worker for their silence. But the story was exposed by a political rival, the country’s former spy chief and an ally of ex-president Jacob Zuma who leaked the details in a complaint to the national police. Learning of the affair, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters shouted him down during a budgetary meeting in Parliament, calling him a money launderer unfit to lead the country.
Other watchdogs are piling on: Corruption Watch says there are too many red flags surrounding the burglary, suggesting a cover-up.
The crime-fighting Hawks have taken over the investigation of the multimillion-dollar burglary.
All this has made it difficult to say there are still innocent people within the ANC, said Hlengiwe Ndlovu, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in a press interview. “It means that the ANC just pays lip service to this whole issue of corruption.”
Now Mr. Ramaphosa’s opponents within the ANC have an opening to unseat him when the party meets to elect its leader in December and his drive to become a world leader may be permanently stalled. [IDN-InDepthNews — 14 June 2022]
Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Source: Daily Sun
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