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South Africa’s Ramaphosa denies wrongdoing in farm scandal

The president was responding to a parliamentary panel set up to investigate the theft of $4m in cash from his game farm.

South Africa’s president has denied wrongdoing in testimony to a parliamentary panel examining whether he should face impeachment over an alleged cover-up of a heist at his farmhouse, his office said.

In written answers provided to the independent panel on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa “categorically denies that he violated this oath in any way, and denies that he is guilty of any of the allegations made against him,” the presidency said on Monday.

The scandal erupted in June after South Africa’s former national spy boss filed a complaint with the police alleging that robbers broke into Phala Phala, the president’s farm in the northeast of the country, and stole $4m in cash stashed in furniture.

The complaint alleged that Ramaphosa hid the robbery from the authorities and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.

The scandal risks derailing Ramaphosa’s bid for a second term as president of the African National Congress (ANC) as the ruling party heads to hotly contested internal polls in December.

Ramaphosa’s office said he has always made it a point “to abide by his oath of office and set an example in his respect for the constitution”.

The independent panel, which was appointed by the National Assembly speaker last month, includes an ex-chief justice, a former prominent high court judge, and a lawyer.

It was established after a motion tabled by a legislator from The African Transformation Movement, one of the country’s opposition parties, and is set to report its findings mid-November.

Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority vote in South Africa’s National Assembly, where Ramaphosa’s ANC commands more than two-thirds of the seats. But in June, he was heckled in parliament by opposition legislators.

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