South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was confronted in Parliament Thursday by opposition politicians who pressed him to step down from office pending a criminal investigation into allegations that he covered up a theft from his rural game farm.
Parliament members from the Economic Freedom Fighters were forcibly removed from the legislature’s session for repeatedly interrupting Ramaphosa as he presented the annual budget for his office.
“We can’t be addressed by a money launderer and a criminal,” shouted Natasha Ntlangwini, an EFF member of parliament. “We can’t be addressed by a person that … is accused of serious crimes.” She was later ejected from the session by security guards.
The theft in 2020 of a large amount of cash in U.S. dollars from his ranch in the northern Limpopo province was alleged in a criminal complaint filed this month by former intelligence chief Arthur Fraser.
Ramaphosa later confirmed the burglary and said the cash was from selling game animals on his farm. The president said that he reported it to the head of his personal protection unit but not to the police.
The scandal is a major blow to Ramaphosa’s image as a leader committed to stamping out corruption in South Africa. His strong stance against corruption propelled him to power in 2018 when former President Jacob Zuma was forced to step down from power amid widespread graft allegations. Ramaphosa again vowed to root out corruption in the 2019 election when he won a five-year term as the country’s president.