Cape Town – Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has said that President Cyril Ramaphosa “will gladly step aside” if he were to be charged with any crime.
Magwenya said this over the weekend, as calls for the president to step aside mounted amid the Phala Phala farm theft scandal.
The scandal erupted in June after South Africa’s former spy chief Arthur Fraser filed a complaint with the police alleging robbers broke into the president’s farm in the northeast of the country.
There, they stole $4 million in cash stashed in furniture.
Fraser alleged that Ramaphosa hid the robbery from the authorities and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.
The president has acknowledged a burglary but denies kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the break-in to the police.
He has also disputed the amount of money involved, explaining it came from legitimate sales of game from his animal-breeding farm.
However, Magwenya told a media on Sunday that the president will step down if criminally charged.
“The president has not been charged of any crime.
“There are investigations that are taking place in this regard. The constitutionally-enshrined presumption of innocence until proven guilty remains, so I guess the question is best posed for those who made the call for the president to step aside as to what informs those calls.
“Should the president be charged, he will gladly step aside … but as things stand there are no criminal charges against the president. What you have is a series of investigations that he is fully co-operating with, and he will continue to do so until those investigations are concluded,” said Magwenya.
Magwenya also refuted claims of instability within the cabinet, particularly, the relationship between the president and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
“There is a level of co-operation between the president and his cabinet members. There is a necessary cordial working relationship between the president and the rest of his cabinet,’ he said.
The reassurance followed Sisulu’s recent public criticism of Ramaphosa, including calls for him to resign.
According to EWN, Sisulu openly called for Ramaphosa’s axing over the Phala Phala farm saga, claiming it was tainting the presidency and the governing ANC.