South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has said it will block efforts to impeach the country’s president. Cyril RamaphosaTuesday in a crucial vote in parliament, providing relief to the embattled leader after days of uncertainty about his political future.
Ramaphosa launched legal action on Monday to challenge a report submitted last week by an independent panel appointed by parliament, which accused him of serious misconduct. stolen from his private game ranch Somewhere between $500,000 (£410,000) and $5m in cash about three years ago.
The money, reportedly the proceeds of the sale of cattle, was allegedly hidden in a sofa when they were taken away.
Ramaphosa, 70, has been charged with possession of undeclared foreign currency, tax evasion, failing to inform police about the robbery and misusing state resources by ordering a senior presidential bodyguard to track down the thieves , which then appear to have been paid. He has denied all wrongdoing.
After earlier telling supporters that he was going to resign, Ramaphosa has now called for a judicial review of the report, which his spokesman said was flawed.
With the dominance of the ANC in Parliament it does not appear that there will be enough votes for impeachment to proceed. The party has been in power for 28 years.
The ANC’s decision to vote against the motion comes after 48 hours of frantic meetings of the party’s top decision-making bodies.
The “Farmgate” scandal has reopened deep divisions between factions within the party, giving credence to the president’s opponents.
The prospect of weeks of infighting, at least until the ANC holds its scheduled conference later this month to appoint a leader for another five years, will further damage South Africa’s declining economy.
His spokesman Vincent Magwenya said on Saturday, “President Ramaphosa is not resigning, nor is he stepping aside, on the basis of a flawed report.”
“It is in the long-term interest and stability of our constitutional democracy, beyond the Ramaphosa presidency, that such a clearly erroneous report is challenged, especially when it is used as a reference to the removal of a head of state.” being done.”
Ramaphosa has welcomed a separate police investigation into the allegations. He has not been charged with any offense and will stand for re-election as leader of the party at the convention in 12 days’ time.
Observers said most ANC politicians believe Ramaphosa is the only party leader with broad appeal, which could mean lawmakers will hesitate before starting a process that could remove him from office with a general election due in 2024 .
The ANC’s historical popularity has been damaged by rising unemployment, persistent violent crime, nationwide power cuts and allegations of endemic corruption.
Party have lost support in towns and cities in recent years, With its vote share of around 50% it has been sustained only with support from poor, rural communities where the party’s brand of patronage-based politics works best.
“The most important thing for all of us to accept is that there is no ‘better ANC’ or ‘better people in the ANC’. From top to bottom the whole organization is rotten, with only a speck of integrity,” columnist Songjo Zibei wrote on the Daily Maverick News website.
“For those who used to believe that Ramaphosa could miraculously change the character of the party for the better, I hope they can now see that it was a daydream… even if Ramaphosa chops off were to survive, they had to make serious compromises.”
Opposition parties have sought to toughen support for impeachment, an unprecedented move under South Africa’s constitution.
“We call on all South Africans to unite to defend our constitution and the rule of law,” a coalition including the centre-right Democratic Alliance and the populist far-left Economic Freedom Fighters said in a statement on Saturday.
The Democratic Alliance also called for the National Assembly to be dissolved on Monday, while the Economic Freedom Fighters argued for a vote of no confidence. Analysts said neither had much chance of success given the ANC’s dominance in parliament.