- The commission found that the president may have committed misconduct
- Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing
- The ANC executive meets on Friday to discuss the results
- Rand, Bond slips on speculation that Ramaphosa may go
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Cyril Ramaphosa’s future as South African president hung in the balance on Thursday, as his office said it was exploring options after a report found evidence he may have committed misconduct over a stash of cash stolen from his game. Farm.
The report by a panel of experts appointed by the Speaker focused on allegations that thieves found and seized millions of dollars in cash in furniture at the multi-millionaire Chief’s Vala Vala game farm in 2020, a theft that only came to light in 2020 June.
The theft has raised questions about how Ramaphosa, who came to power promising to fight graft, obtained the money and whether he made it public.
The chief said that a much smaller amount of money—the proceeds from sales of the game—was charged and that he reported the crime when he heard about it. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
His spokesman said Ramaphosa had “all options on the table” and was still consulting on the report’s recommendations. He apologized for previous comments that suggested Ramaphosa might make a statement on Thursday.
The rand fell more than 4% against the dollar before paring losses, and South African sovereign bonds fell sharply on speculation that Ramaphosa would leave office.
The country’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, called snap elections and the report plunged the ruling African National Congress into crisis.
It also threatens Ramaphosa’s efforts to revive investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialized economy, after a decade of corruption scandals under former President Jacob Zuma.
The ANC said its executive committee would meet to discuss the committee’s report on Friday morning, delaying an earlier plan to meet on Thursday.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor called the commission’s report a “very worrying moment” in an interview at the upcoming Reuters conference, and called on two government ministers for Ramaphosa’s resignation.
A spokesperson for the Elite Police Unit (Hawks) said its investigation into the theft at Ramaphosa’s farm was still ongoing, while the central bank said it did not comment on the exchange control investigation.
The media dubbed the case “Farmgate”.
The ANC is due to hold an electoral conference later this month that will decide whether Ramaphosa will run for a second term on the ANC’s ticket in the 2024 elections.
“I think the president should step down now and answer the case,” Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who narrowly lost the 2017 ANC leadership contest to Ramaphosa, wrote on Twitter late Wednesday.
“CR MUST resign now!” wrote Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who campaigned to be elected leader of the ANC this month.
A statement from parliament said Ramaphosa had postponed his scheduled appearance in parliament to answer questions from lawmakers on Thursday and asked the Senate speaker for some time to “consider carefully … the next action to be taken.”
The committee’s recommendations are not binding on lawmakers who are scheduled to debate the report on Dec. 6. The African National Congress holds the majority of seats in Parliament.
If lawmakers decide to proceed with the impeachment process, the next stage would be to create an impeachment committee with far greater powers — including subpoena power — than the speaker-appointed panel of experts.
That committee will have the power to recommend Ramaphosa’s removal from office, a decision that will have to be made by parliament.
Roelph wrote from Cape Town and Winning from Johannesburg. Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Tim Cox in Johannesburg Editing by Olivia Komwenda Mtambo, James Macharia Chigg, Mark Heinrichs and Andrew Heavens
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