UDM turns up the heat on Reserve Bank over Phala Phala report

UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa is pushing for transparency in the Reserve Bank’s probe into illegal foreign currency allegedly stolen at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in 2020 but never reported to police.

The party gave the central bank seven days to publicly release its full report, citing that for the president to be held accountable for any illegal activities committed, the public should be given access to the report to make an informed decision.

“Should the SARB [South African Reserve Bank] refuse to produce its Phala Phala report in terms of PAIA [Promotion of Access to Information Act] within seven days of this letter, the UDM reserves the right to other courses of action,” Holomisa said on Tuesday.

The party made a submission to the central bank under the PAIA 2 of 2000.

The bank indicated that the report will remain confidential, however, the law stipulates that citizens have the right to access information held by public institutions.

On Monday, it issued a media statement that its investigation had cleared both Ramaphosa and the game farm from legal obligation to declare illegally held foreign currency within 30 days.

It concluded that due to “legislative requirements and constraints”, the report will remain a “private internal report and will not be made available to the public”.

Holomisa said the report was in the interest of the public and has to be released to the public, adding that post-democracy in 1994, the country wanted to abolish the secretive and unresponsive culture in public and private bodies which often led to abuse of power.

He said the Reserve Bank’s media statement raised more questions than answers.

“There are certain established facts in the matter, for instance, there was undeclared foreign cash currency involved that was stashed in presidential furniture which was stolen [with which no buffalo were bought].

“It is still not clear if the foreign currency was declared with the SARB within 30 days of entering the country.

“If there were no perfected transactions, to whom does [or did] the foreign currency belong at the time of the theft at Phala Phala? Furthermore, what are the implications of what the SARB is saying in its statement?

“To whom does the foreign currency belong to now, is the SARB implying that president Ramaphosa is a thief, or is he misleading the country?”

He mentioned that the UDM had to jump through hoops to be able to make a submission to the central bank due to outdated information and unnecessary hurdles.

This included a requirement that applicants for access to public information should approach the Information Regulator of South Africa to obtain a copy of the manual.

It would be easier for the copy to be downloadable from the bank’s website, said Holomisa. “In any case, the regulator’s telephone number did not exist.”


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