ActionSA, DA want SARB's Phala Phala report to be made public

22nd August 2023 By: Thabi Shomolekae - Creamer Media Senior Research Assistant and Reporter

ActionSA, DA want SARB's Phala Phala report to be made public

SARB governor Lesetja Kganyago

Opposition parties are requesting South African Reserve Bank (SARB) governor Lesetja Kganyago to make public the report into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s failure to disclose the foreign currency which was stolen at his Phala Phala farm in 2020.

This after the SARB announced on Monday that it found that Ramaphosa's Ntaba Nyoni Estate, which owns the Phala Phala game farm, was not "legally entitled" to the $580 000 it received from Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa for 20 buffalo.

SARB found no wrong doing by Ramaphosa as it concluded that the transaction was not completed and so there was no contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations.

ActionSA president Herman Mashaba said his party will be filing an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to get access to the SARB report, explaining that should the application be denied the party will approach the High Court seeking an order compelling the SARB to furnish it with the report.

“ActionSA contends that the report is most likely a whitewash and if indeed there is nothing to hide, SARB Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, must honour the party’s application in terms of PAIA so that the people of South Africa may satisfy themselves that this is not another cover-up,” Mashaba said.

Mashaba noted that if the party’s suspicions are correct, that the report is indeed a whitewash, the party will take the report on judicial review.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Finance Dr Dion George said it is exactly one year after correspondence was sent to Kganyago’s office by the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding allegations against Ramaphosa.

George explained that Kganyago indicated that the SARB will account to Parliament in accordance with its constitutional obligations on August 30.

George wrote to Kganyago ahead of the meeting to express his concern at the findings published by the SARB.

“SARB finds that there was no perfected transaction and thus the SARB cannot conclude that there was any contravention of the Exchange Control Regulations. Given that there was no legal entitlement to the foreign currency, there was no contravention,” he laid out.

George explained that the report is completely silent on the apparent fact that foreign currency was actually in the President’s possession, saying this is the crux of the matter, not whether the transaction was perfected or not.

The status of the transaction cannot be the determinant, it is the possession of the currency, he added.

“If the transaction status is considered the deciding factor, then the door is wide open to money laundering and foreign currency being held for lengthy periods pending transaction completion,” said George.

Mashaba asked how could it be possible that $580 000 (or $4-million as former State Security Agency head Arthur Fraser has alleged) can be hidden away in a couch without the country’s financial agencies being aware of it.

ActionSA has already asked the National Assembly, South African Revenue Service and SARB to hold the President accountable and will investigate other avenues at its disposal.

George noted that given the country’s recent greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force, South Africa can ill-afford non-compliance with financial regulations.