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PoliticsSouth Africa

South Africa: Ramaphosa challenges allegations of corruption

December 5, 2022

South Africa's embattled leader Cyril Ramaphosa is seeking to annul a bombshell report in court after calls for his removal grew louder. His ANC party has vowed to back him on any potential impeachment proceedings.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing Image: Jerome Delay/AP/dpa/picture alliance

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa took last-minute legal action on Monday against a bombshell report by a parliamentary commission of inquiry, which says he may have committed criminal wrongdoing. 

The parliamentary report claims there was preliminary evidence for gross misconduct and possible violation of the constitution by Ramaphosa. The report also says the head of state allegedly violated an anti-corruption law. 

Ramaphosa filed the case to the National Constitutional Court, aiming to have the report, which sparked speculation about a possible impeachment, "reviewed, declared unlawful and set aside," according to papers made available to the media by his spokesman.

The South African president also called for any potential impeachment process to be blocked, stressing that "any steps taken by the National Assembly pursuant to the report are equally unlawful and invalid."

Ramaphosa's spokesman Vincent Magwenya described the report as "clearly flawed." Independent legal experts also criticized the report as being based largely on unverified information and hearsay.

ANC vows to back Ramaphosa 

The publication of the report had plunged South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party into a deep crisis last week. Shortly after the president's announcement, the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) — the ANC's highest body — made public that they would oppose the adoption of the panel's report in parliament after holding talks centered on the future of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The report is scheduled to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday. Opposition parties said they planned to initiate a vote on impeachment proceedings. 

Ramaphosa digs heels in amid 'farmgate' scandal

There have been growing calls for Ramaphosa to step down as president, after the independent parliamentary panel's investigation into the circumstances surrounding the theft of a large amount of money from Ramaphosa's private farm in 2020.

An estimated $4 million (€3.85 million) was taken during the robbery, raising questions about how the president acquired the cash and whether he declared it.

He has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes. However the panel appointed by the speaker of South Africa's parliament found Ramaphosa violated his oath of office and may have breached anti-corruption laws.

Ramaphosa is trying to secure a second term in office and ahead of the panel's report was the clear favorite to lead the ANC in 2024.

Opposition calls for dissolution of National Assembly

The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has submitted a motion to dissolve the National Assembly and has called for early elections. 

"Parliament’s role is precisely to step up at times such as this... It can only do this by dissolving the National Assembly so that the president can call an early election," said DA leader John Steenhuisen.

los, kb/wd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)