South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s attempts to speak in Parliament were disrupted for a second day as opposition legislators confronted him over allegations he tried to cover up the theft of cash from his game farm, Phala Phala.
Legislators from the populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the second largest opposition party, were removed by security guards as they shouted that Ramaphosa should not be allowed to address the house.
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They accused Ramaphosa of laundering money at his game farm and trying to hide it by not reporting the theft of $4m at Phala Phala to the police.
The party is also demanding that Ramaphosa step down as president pending investigations into the theft.
“The president of the republic, there are serious allegations against him, so he can’t come to the house to address us,” protested EFF legislator Omphile Maotwe, interrupting Ramaphosa’s attempts to speak. “He must step aside and allow the law to take its course.”
Parliamentary proceedings descended into chaos for the second day running prompting the Speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to order the removal of several legislators.
Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing, saying his farm got the money from selling animals and that he had reported the theft to his presidential protection unit.
On Friday, he told legislators that the robbery was under investigation and that “the law must be able to take its course”.
“I have listened very carefully to the views of members of this house who have raised thoughts, suggestions and proposals on this matter,” said Ramaphosa. “Some of the views have been to counsel me, and yet others have been laced with insults. I will not respond to insults, but will say that the counsel and suggestions that have been made raise points that I will consider.”
The scandal comes as Ramaphosa faces challenges from rivals within his party, the ruling African National Congress, ahead of his bid to be re-elected the party’s president at its national conference in December.
In 2018, he replaced predecessor Jacob Zuma who resigned amidst pressure over allegations of misappropriation of funds and being influenced by the controversial Gupta brothers – who were arrested earlier this week in Dubai.