Although no money or anything of political significance was stolen by the Watergate burglars, what cost Nixon his presidency was his attempt to conceal the extent of involvement of his key personnel and the allegation that he obstructed the pursuit of justice in establishing that involvement. Cyril Ramaphosa’s concealment from SARS and SAPS of the theft of some $4 to $8 million from his farm over two years ago is his Watergate moment.
His excuse that he receives cash for sales of his cattle and game and his denial of any wrongdoing is as implausible as Nixon’s belated denial of awareness of Watergate. Had this situation not surfaced last week, one wonders whether Ramaphosa would ever have declared his dollar millions to Sars. His claim that he is ready to co-operate with any investigation lacks credibility given the fact that two years have elapsed since the cash was stolen. He says he has not defrauded the South African taxpayer but by failing to disclose his loot to SARS and to pay tax on it, the state coffers have been denied the benefit of revenue.
Cover-ups don’t end well as Nixon experienced. For failing to uphold the fiduciary authority vested in the office of the President along with the constitution’s requirement of transparency and accountability, Ramaphosa should resign.