SARS unable to trace cash paid to Ramaphosa

By S’thembile Cele

South Africa’s tax authority said it’s unable to find any record of funds brought into the country by a Sudanese businessman that were used to purchase buffalo from President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The statement by the South African Revenue Service renews scrutiny of the theft of the money from a game farm owned by Ramaphosa that threatened to end his presidency. Ramaphosa last year considered resigning after an advisory panel found he may have breached the constitution over his handling of the burglary, though the panel’s report was later quashed by parliament. 

The main opposition Democratic Alliance in December asked the SARS to confirm that the businessman, Hazim Mustafa, complied with a legal requirement to declare the foreign currency upon his arrival in the country. Mustafa previously said in an interview with Sky News that he declared the funds.

“SARS is not in possession of said record,” the agency said in a statement on Monday. Opposition members of parliament have called for further investigations into the matter.

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The Democratic Alliance said Monday it will submit the information supplied by the SARS to parliament’s speaker as “yet another reason why she must accede to the DA’s request for the urgent establishment of an ad hoc committee to fully expose the truth” about the funds.

The obligation to declare the money to SARS was for the buyer to fulfill on arrival in South Africa, and not for the management of the farm during receipt of payment, Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, said by text message on Monday. 

The SARS statement comes a week after the nation’s Constitutional Court rejected an application by Ramaphosa for direct access to the court to set aside the advisory panel’s findings. The judgment opened the way for the president to approach a lower court to consider the matter.

Read more: Ramaphosa overhauls cabinet to tackle electricity crisis and unemployment ahead of ’24 elections

With assistance from Paul Vecchiatto.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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