Reserve Bank (SARB) governor Lesetja Kganyago says there was no political meddling in the central bank’s investigation into the stash of dollars stolen from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm in early 2020, reports Fin24.

Kganyago yesterday told PSG’s Think Big webinar that the investigation was conducted without fear, favour or prejudice.

He also mounted a staunch defence of the central bank’s inflation-targeting policy, which has resulted in a series of rate hikes that have pushed borrowing costs to a 14-year high. 

‘Politicians cannot come into the Reserve Bank on any of the matters that we are busy with,' Kganyago told host Alishia Seckam.

‘The investigation that has taken place, that is what every South African would have been subjected to.’

The SARB announced on 21 August that its investigators had cleared Ramaphosa and Ntaba Nyoni Estates, the legal entity that owns the President’s Phala Phala game farm, of contravening foreign exchange regulations following the sale of buffalo to a Sudanese businessman. 

The buyer left $580 000 at the farm, although the animals were never delivered, raising questions as to why the money was not declared to authorities in accordance with foreign exchange legislation.

SARB’s Financial Surveillance Department cleared Ramaphosa on the basis that no transaction has been ‘perfected’, prompting accusations of a cover-up, adds the  Fin24 report.

The DA has applied to the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) for a finding that Ramaphosa did indeed violate exchange controls, a case that may compel the SARB being to release its investigative report.

Kganyago said: ‘My investigators will file a replying affidavit. The court is the final arbiter about whether the laws have been interpreted correctly or not.’

Kganyago, who has been the central bank governor since November 2014, also defended the SARB’s policy of using interest rates as a tool to maintain inflation.

‘If anybody wants to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank, they would have to change the Constitution,' said Kganyago.

Full Fin24 report

See also full Business Day report