South Africa’s President Is Unlikely to Face Impeachment
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, is standing by its president, Cyril Ramaphosa, rejecting calls that he face an impeachment hearing over accusations that he kept a large sum of cash in a sofa at his game farm and failed to report a crime when it was stolen.
The decision by the executive committee of the A.N.C. was announced on Monday after an all-day meeting — essentially killing a report that had been prepared by a three-member panel recommending that impeachment hearings go ahead.
Mr. Ramaphosa filed a legal challenge in the nation’s highest court on Monday challenging the report, issued by two retired judges and a lawyer, which said that he might have violated the Constitution.
Parliament is scheduled to convene on Tuesday to vote on whether to adopt the report and hold impeachment hearings. A.N.C. members hold a majority of the seats in Parliament. While they are not required to do what their executive committee says, analysts say it is highly unlikely that they will break ranks in what is expected to be a public vote.
Mr. Ramaphosa has been under fire since a criminal complaint filed by a political foe in June alleged that a large sum of U.S. currency was stolen from a couch in a game farm, Phala Phala Wildlife, owned by the president. The complaint alleged that Mr. Ramaphosa never reported the theft and tried to cover it up to avoid the publicity over having that much foreign currency hidden at his private residence.
The president has maintained that he has done nothing wrong. But when the report by the panel appointed by Parliament came out last week, Mr. Ramaphosa considered resigning, advisers said, under heavy pressure from his opponents within the A.N.C., as well as rival political parties.
But though his political perch seemed tenuous in the immediate aftermath of the report’s release, Mr. Ramaphosa and his allies have since come out swinging.
On social media, his supporters have questioned the impartiality of a lawyer on the panel, posting old photos of her smiling alongside some of the president’s detractors. Rallies in support of Mr. Ramaphosa have been convened, and his allies in the party have suggested that those who wanted him ousted were criminals afraid of his anticorruption agenda.
They have also called the report deeply flawed.
“It’s a nonsense report,” Zamani Saul, the premier of Northern Cape Province and a Ramaphosa supporter, said in an interview. “It’s inconclusive on everything.”