South Africa’s president could lose his job and his reputation as an anti-corruption fighter, as he could face impeachment over allegations that he tried to cover up the theft of millions of dollars in hidden treasures. hidden in a bench on his farm.
The allegations brought by a political rival led to a damaging report to parliament and pressure from the political opposition and some in the ruling party to force President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down. Police have not yet announced any criminal charges.
Africa’s most developed country awaits the president’s public statement on the latest developments as the ruling African National Congress party’s top decision-making body discusses next steps. Lawmakers are expected to debate the congressional report on Tuesday.
Here’s what is known about the scandal:
Former State Security Agency director Arthur Fraser filed a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa in June for theft in 2020 that Fraser said was more than $4 million in cash stashed at the farm. Presidential. Fraser, an ally of political rival and the president’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, has alleged that Ramaphosa and others committed money laundering and violated the country’s foreign currency control laws, and that Ramaphosa covered up Hide the case from the police and tax authorities.
This week, a congressional committee report suggested the president may have violated anti-corruption laws. It raised questions about the source of the money and why it was not disclosed to financial authorities, and cited potential conflicts between the president’s business and official interests.
Opposition parties and critics of Ramaphosa in the African National Congress have called for his resignation. Ramaphosa, 70, had planned to run for re-election as the party’s leader during an ANC conference this month, which would enable re-election for South Africa’s presidency in 2024.
WHAT DOES THE PRESIDENT SAY?
Ramaphosa has denied wrongdoing, saying the money stolen was proceeds from the sale of animals on his farm and that he was “not involved in any crime.” But the congressional report questioned his explanation, asking why the animals were still on the farm more than two years later.
The report also said a central bank investigation found no record of dollars entering the country. It said Ramaphosa had placed himself in a conflict of interest situation and that evidence “determined that the president may be guilty of a serious violation of certain parts of the constitution.”
As speculation spiked on Thursday about a possible resignation announcement, a spokesperson for Ramaphosa told reporters the president was still processing the report. “We are in a special and unprecedented moment as a constitutional democracy as a result of the report, and therefore whatever decision the president makes, it must be announced in the best interest of the country. That decision cannot be rushed,” the spokesman said. , Vincent Magwenya, said.
Ramaphosa, a wealthy businessman, is Nelson Mandela’s favorite presidential successor. When he took office in 2018 after the scandal-ridden resignation of President Zuma, many South Africans supported Ramaphosa’s focus on fighting corruption in the ANC, which was a far cry from its widely respected era. under Mandela.
HOW DOES THE PARTY PARTY HAVE A ROLE?
The drama surrounding Zuma and the allegations of corruption badly divided the ANC. The person who brought the charges against Ramaphosa, Fraser, is a well-known Zuma loyalist and a faction of the ANC that wants Ramaphosa to go.
The ANC has an important role in the president’s fate. Presidents in South Africa are not directly elected by the people, instead they vote for a political party. Lawmakers then elect the president. The leading opposition party in parliament, the Democratic Alliance, is pushing to hold elections immediately rather than in 2024.
Ramaphosa has no chance of winning a second term without the backing of the ruling party. Its national executive committee has the power to force the president to resign, and it did so with Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki after both fell out of favor.
Ramaphosa still enjoys the support of some members of the party’s national executive committee. ANC President Gwede Mantashe told a local television station on Friday that the president was not thinking about resigning. Whether Ramaphosa has enough support to survive impeachment in parliament is unknown. The removal of the President requires a vote of at least two-thirds of the National Assembly deputies.