"Farmgate" could impeach South African President Ramaphosa

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves after meeting Britain's Prime Minister Rishi. (Photo: Africa News/Alberto Pezzali/AP)

After the publishing of a parliamentary report that could lead to the president's impeachment, the South African government said that it will take action against the country's president, who is embroiled in a crisis.

In a report released late on Wednesday, a parliamentary committee charged with probing the mysterious burglary scandal that has embarrassed President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of an election essential to his political future determined that the president "may have committed" infractions and misconduct.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) will nominate its next leader during a meeting in mid-December. After the 2024 general elections, whoever becomes victorious will become head of state if the ANC wins the election.

The party's all-powerful National Executive Committee (NEC) has summoned an emergency meeting in response to the revelation, which has surprised the Ramaphosa camp.

Up to this point, the internal vote process appeared to be proceeding smoothly. The anticipation was slightly diminished by the party's admission last week that only two candidates were in the running for its presidency. Cyril Ramaphosa was in a commanding lead over his former health minister, Zweli Mkhize, and the route ahead appeared to be clear.

Parliament meets in extraordinary session on Tuesday to study the report's recommendations, which it is not required to adopt but could prompt it to launch a motion to remove the president from office.

If this process were to be launched, it would have little chance of success, given Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC holds an overwhelming majority in the South African parliament.

Calls for his resignation have increased from both the opposition and ANC members.

Low profile

In the immediate aftermath of the report's release, the presidency demanded a "careful study and proper assessment" of the paper "in the sake of government and national stability."

It vowed to make announcements "in due course," but it appears to prefer to maintain a low profile for the time being. A press meeting set for Thursday to "discuss current problems of public and media interest" has been canceled.

A question period with the president in the Assembly's upper chamber was postponed without delay.

Cyril Ramaphosa's sessions in parliament have been turbulent recently, as he has been viciously assaulted on accusations of malfeasance.

The incident occurred in 2020. In February, thieves entered one of his luxurious houses. The cushions of a sofa contained wads of currency.

It is alleged that the head of state did not report the occurrence to the police or the tax authorities.

Mr. Ramaphosa "categorically rejects" doing any wrongdoing. In a formal statement to the committee, a copy of which was conveniently leaked on the day of the parliamentary report and of which AFP has in possession, he explains his version of the events.

According to him, a Sudanese businessman purchased buffaloes from his estate in the northeast of the country, where he raises game and livestock. "He chose the ones he preferred and paid the total of $580,000 in cash," revealed the president.

The cash was concealed "between the cushions of a sofa in a seldom-used area" by an employee who deemed this a more secure hiding spot than the property's safe.

Cyril Ramaphosa is also the subject of a criminal investigation by the elite Hawks unit of the South African police.

Publish : 2022-12-01 18:03:00

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