(Update 1: SA’s parliament delays vote, ANC backs Ramaphosa)
Johannesburg, Dec 5 (EFE).- South Africa’s governing African National Congress party on Monday refused to back an impeachment hearing for President Cyril Ramaphosa, which the opposition had been pressuring for to force his resignation.
The National Assembly – the country’s parliament – postponed for one week the vote that was scheduled for Tuesday regarding a report accusing the president of potentially violating anti-corruption laws and which could have led to his ouster.
The parliament’s Special Program Committee held a telematic meeting to prepare for Tuesday’s session but its members decided that the vote must be carried out in person and by hand, rather than virtually.
For that reason, the committee members postponed until Dec. 13 the session to allow for the physical presence of the 400 lawmakers making up the lower chamber, all of whom must now travel to Capetown, where the parliament is located.
With the delay, “We should have enough time to prepare” the parliamentary session, National Assembly president Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.
After the committee meeting in Johannesburg, the ANC’s general treasurer, Paul Mashatile, said that if the National Assembly meets to debate the matter, lawmakers belonging to the ANC – which has governed the country since 1994 – would vote against it.
“That means that the president will continue as president,” he said, noting that the ANC will not support any process that leads to the “president’s removal,” which requires a two-thirds majority in the lower house, where the ANC controls 230 seats, or 57.5 percent.
The allegations accuse the head of state of covering up the theft of $4 million from his Phala Phala farm in northeastern South Africa back in 2020.
The president has admitted that the money was stolen but claims that the sum was roughly $580,000.
The party’s labor committee on Sunday had reviewed the report claiming the president may have violated several anti-corruption laws.
At that meeting, the leaders concluded that ANC deputies should reject the report when it will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday, considering it flawed.
Ramaphosa’s lawyer had confirmed that he plans to appeal the report before the country’s Constitutional Court, after his party allies dissuaded him from resigning, a decision that seemed imminent last week.
On Monday, Ramaphosa had asked the court, South Africa’s top judicial body, to ignore the report, which he called “illegal.”
The document, prepared by an independent panel appointed by the Parliament in August, analyzed a motion filed in June against Ramaphosa by the African Movement for Transformation, one of the opposition parties.
The motion accused Ramaphosa of violating his presidential oath by failing to comply with the Constitution, which prohibits members of the government from engaging in other paid professional work.
The president has admitted that he was engaged in the sale of prey animals, claiming that the money stolen from his farm came from that business – in which cash payments are common – and not from illegal operations.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has confirmed that it was preparing a motion for Parliament calling for the dissolution of the government, a move that would lead to early elections.