South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday stopped an impeachment process from being launched against President Cyril Ramaphosa, as most of its lawmakers followed party instructions to vote against a probe report on him.
The report by a panel of experts had last month found preliminary evidence that Ramaphosa may have violated the constitution over a stash of foreign currency hidden at his private game farm.
Ramaphosa has denied wrongdoing over the scandal, which has been dubbed “Farmgate” by the media. He has challenged the report in court and not been charged with any crime, but some opponents have called for his resignation.
In total, 214 lawmakers voted against setting up an impeachment committee to further probe the allegations and make a recommendation to parliament on whether the president should be removed from office.
Several ANC members, however, were part of 148 lawmakers who voted in favour. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, an ex-wife of Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma who narrowly lost a 2017 ANC leadership contest to Ramaphosa, was among those who wanted the impeachment process. Two lawmakers abstained the vote.
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The foreign currency hidden in furniture at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm was stolen in 2020 but it came to light only in June.
The theft raised questions about how Ramaphosa, who came to power on the promise to fight graft, acquired the money and whether he declared it.
Ramaphosa has said a much smaller amount of money than the millions of dollars reported was taken and it was the proceeds of game sales. Contrary to the allegations, he said he reported the theft when he heard about it.
By Reuters (Additional reporting by Sisipho SkweyiyaWriting by Alexander WinningEditing by James Macharia Chege and Arun Koyyur)