Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec 13 (EFE).- Members of South Africa’s parliament on Tuesday rejected a motion to open impeachment proceedings against the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been accused of violating corruption laws.
Following a tense debate, 214 deputies voted not to accept an independent report, with 148 voting in favor and two abstaining, thereby preventing a procedure to remove Ramaphosa from office.
An investigation against the president arising from the report “will not proceed”, the president of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said before closing the session.
The report threatened the political future of the head of state and president of the African National Congress (ANC) – in power since the end of apartheid in 1994 – which was under pressure from the opposition to force his resignation.
The ANC had instructed its 230 lawmakers to reject the report, although as many as five broke ranks to vote in favor on Tuesday, including Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who this month called for Ramaphosa’s resignation.
While the document required a simple majority to pass, the president’s removal would need the backing of two-thirds of the House.
The vote was held ahead of the start on Friday of the ANC’s 55th National Conference, where Ramaphosa is expected to be re-elected as party leader.
Ramaphosa, 70, has denied any wrongdoing.
On December 5, he went before the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest judicial instance, to challenge the report that claims he covered up the 2020 theft of foreign currency worth almost $4.25 million from his farm.
The scandal erupted in June, when the former head of the country’s intelligence agency Arthur Fraser sued the head of state for concealing the theft from the South African Police and Treasury.
Rumors of Ramaphosa’s imminent resignation were rife on December 1 after an independent panel appointed by Parliament found evidence that the president may have violated anti-corruption laws.
That panel was due to examine a motion brought by the opposition African Transformation Movement (ATM) party against Ramaphosa in June this year.
Among other charges, the ATM accused the president of breaching the constitution – which prohibits members of the government from engaging in other paid professional work – after the president admitted that he was engaged in the sale of prey animals, claiming that the money that was stolen from his farm came from that business (where cash payments are common).
The presidency had denied Fraser’s accusations in June.
The president claimed in his response to questions from the panel that the amount stolen was less than $580,000.
A former union leader and one of the richest black South Africans, Ramaphosa succeeded Jacob Zuma as president in 2018, pledging to tackle the corruption and economic malaise unleashed during his predecessor’s nine-year rule. EFE