Business as usual as more dollars expected to rain on Phala Phala

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cattle farming associates have confirmed that foreign currency, which is at the centre of the Phala Phala game farm scandal, is set to be yet again exchanged when the next auction takes place next Saturday at the farm.

Jacques Malan, the president of the Ankole Cattle Breeders Association of South Africa, said they will not be intimidated from hosting the national auction.

“People should understand that this is not a presidential auction, but a private auction for Full Blood Genetics Ankole. We do not expect any political party to interfere with the auction but we will leave nothing to chance,” said Malan.

He said more than 15 associations of Ankole breeders in the country and abroad will converge on Phala Phala farm where a venue had been hired to house the auction.

“An auctioneer has been appointed to handle the cash and proceeds of the sale after which the money will be deposited to the rightful owner. There are also people who prefer cash, and this would be an agreement with that individual and the auctioneer.”

He said the association also expects buyers from abroad.

“Some overseas buyers often use silent partners from SA to make the purchase. We hope that there will be many of them because this would boost the auction,” said Malan.

Ramaphosa has been caught up in a heavy political storm since it emerged that a robbery occurred at the 4500ha farm in which cash in foreign currency was stolen in February 2020 while the commander-in-chief was attending an African Union summit in Ethiopia.

While Ramaphosa claims the undisclosed amount of money stolen was the proceeds of a sale of animals, former State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser has made sensational claims that criminals and the president’s maid made off with $4-million (about R61,8-million) during the burglary.

Fraser lodged a complaint with the police at Rosebank Police Station and said in a statement that Ramaphosa allegedly concealed the crime and paid the culprits for their silence.

Ramaphosa first used his closing address at the Limpopo provincial conference last Sunday to deny the allegations that he was involved in money laundering, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice as claimed by Fraser.

He also endured calls from within and outside the ANC, calling on him to step aside to avoid interfering in the investigation into the matter.

On Monday, Ramaphosa survived an attempt to unseat him during a meeting of the party’s national working committee, in which NWC members including Tony Yengeni led a spirited fight to force him to step aside pending a probe into the matter.

However, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe sprung to Ramaphosa’s defence, saying the ANC top six officials had not finalised a report into his matter.

On Friday, parliament descended into chaos as EFF members hurled insults at Ramaphosa during the reply to his budget vote, forcing speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to stop proceedings and forcefully eject the EFF MPs.

With a barrage of attacks from the EFF and calls from other opposition parties, including the DA, for the president to come clean, Ramaphosa evaded questions about the Phala Phala incident, saying that he had been counselled to wait for “due process” to be completed.

He also told journalists after the budget vote that he would not answer questions related to the burglary, which is subject to an investigation by the Hawks.

Information from Stud Game Breeders shows that Phala Phala has been a very lucrative venture for the president. The auction data, which goes back to 2017, shows the president has netted more than R60-million in sales.
• The president took in R2.7-million via a silent auction in September 2017 and a further R14.6-million in a live auction.
• Phala Phala brought in R2.4-million in a silent auction in September 2018, and a further R14.7-million in a live auction.
• The information also shows the president brought in a combined R14-million in September 2020 (from both the silent and live auctions), five months before he was robbed.
• The February 2020 robbery appears to have slowed down Ramaphosa as he only sold animals worth R135 000 in March 2020. However, Phala Phala sold animals worth R4-million in September 2020.
•March 2021 brought in R1-million and in September last year Phala Phala sold animals worth R6.4-million.

Ramaphosa, who has another farm in Mpumalanga called Ntaba Nyoni, joined Stud Game Breeders in 2010. According to rules of auction published on Stud Game Breeders’ website, the use of cash seems to be permitted.

Rule 23 reads: “The purchase price is payable by the buyer to the auctioneer via electronic transfer on the date of sale unless other payment terms and or means are agreed between the auctioneer and the buyer. The auctioneer reserves the right to refuse any other method or means as payment.”

The South African Revenue Services did not respond to questions on whether the taxman is worried about the usage of cash in the game farming industry.

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