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South Africa’s Ramaphosa Faces Impeachment Threat Over Farm Scandal

An independent panel appointed by the speaker of South Africa’s parliament has found preliminary evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa breached his oath, findings that could lead to his eventual impeachment.

Parliament is set to consider the report, which was presented on Wednesday, and decide whether to go ahead with impeachment proceedings next week.

This comes just weeks before an elective conference that will decide whether Ramaphosa runs for a second term on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ticket in the 2024 elections.

The president immediately denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.

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“I categorically deny that I have breached this oath in any way, and similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the charges against me,” Ramaphosa said in a statement released by the South African presidency after the findings were published on Wednesday. .

In June, it emerged that some $4 million in cash was stolen from Ramaphosa’s game farm in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who came to power on promises to fight corruption, acquired the money and if he declared it.

The three-person panel was established in September and was tasked with determining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that Ramaphosa committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or a serious misdemeanor, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said. , when they handed over the charge. report earlier on Wednesday.

The panel said Ramaphosa should face increased scrutiny over his ability to stay in office.

“In all the circumstances, we believe that the evidence presented to the Panel, prima facie, establishes that the president may be guilty of a serious violation of certain sections of the constitution,” the report found.

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These include not reporting the theft directly to the police, acting in a manner inconsistent with the exercise of office, and exposing yourself to a conflict between your official responsibilities and your private affairs.

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While Ramaphosa confirmed that a robbery occurred at his farm, he said the cash came from proceeds from the sale of games. He has denied breaking the law or any regulations related to his charge.

‘Untenable position’

John Steenhuisen, leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Ramaphosa was in a bind, the Reuters news agency reported.

“The report itself leaves the president in a virtually untenable position, particularly as it relates to his own party’s sideline rules and the strong line he has taken against others within his party,” he said.

Ramaphosa came to power in 2018 vowing to root out corruption after the corrupt era of his former boss, Jacob Zuma, and has generally insisted that any party official accused of corruption step down pending investigations.

The alleged cover-up has tarnished the president’s reputation and overshadowed his re-election bid as head of the ANC.

Ramaphosa, 70, is the favorite to win at the ruling party conference Dec. 16-20, where he faces a challenge from Zweli Mkhize, 66, a former health minister who resigned from the government last year amid corruption accusations.

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In November, the president’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, told reporters that Ramaphosa “would gladly step aside” if criminally charged.

The chances of impeachment are slim given the ANC’s dominance in parliament, where it holds 230 seats, or nearly 60 percent of the total, and generally votes along party lines. Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority.

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Ramaphosa is expected to answer questions in parliament on Thursday and could face a difficult time from opposition politicians.

The investigation is separate from a criminal investigation being conducted by police and which Ramaphosa has welcomed.

The report will be debated in the national assembly on December 6, said the speaker, Mapisa-Nqakula.

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