The South African president, threatened with impeachment, counterattacks

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The South African president, threatened with impeachment, counter-attack

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has received help from his party, the African National Congress, in a case that threatens his position.

The South African president, threatened with impeachment after a scandal with hints of corruption, launched a counterattack on Monday and rallied the support of the ruling party: Parliament announced that it was postponing the vote on a possible procedure to remove him from office.

For months, Cyril Ramaphosa has been hampered by a dark affair. A complaint filed in June accuses him of trying to conceal from the police and the tax authorities a burglary at one of his luxury properties. The criminals had taken, in February 2020, $580,000 in cash, camouflaged under the cushions of a sofa.

Parliament was due to decide in an extraordinary session on Tuesday whether or not to launch impeachment proceedings on the basis of a parliamentary report. An independent commission concluded last week that the president may have committed unlawful acts in connection with the case, paving the way for impeachment proceedings.

We all agree on [the date of] December 13, said Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula late in the evening, during a special programming meeting. The postponement was justified by the need to give each elected official time to travel to Cape Town, where Parliament sits, for a vote, described by some MPs as unprecedented.

Earlier in the day, the president had launched a counter-offensive and seized the Constitutional Court so that the parliamentary report and its consequences, including the vote in Parliament, be reviewed, declared illegal and rejected.

On the same day, the ruling ANC came to his rescue. The caciques of the historic party have announced that they will oppose a vote to initiate impeachment proceedings.

If Parliament starts the process tomorrow, the ANC will not come out in favor of the vote, General Secretary Paul Mashatile said after a summit meeting in Johannesburg.

The triggering of the procedure requires a majority of 50%. Then, a two-thirds majority vote is required to impeach the president. However, despite strong divisions, the ANC holds a comfortable majority in Parliament.

Visibly relaxed and all smiles, Mr Ramaphosa had earlier appeared at the conference center where the meeting of the ANC's executive body, the all-powerful National Executive Committee ( NEC).

In the wake of the publication of the report, he had nevertheless considered throwing in the towel, according to several political sources. The Head of State has clearly ruled out the possibility of a resignation over the weekend.

The president has not offered to step down and neither has the NEC asked him to, the party said on Monday, as it named Mr Ramaphosa the favorite to retain his presidency and seek a second term from 2024. .

The ANC will meet on December 16 to nominate its next candidate for head of state. If, however, the party, in power since the fall of apartheid, emerged victorious in the election.

In South Africa, the president is elected by parliament. A majority since 1994, Nelson Mandela's party has chosen the head of state since the advent of South African democracy.

The report on the scandal has been widely criticized in recent days by legal experts, for not being the product of an investigation, but an assemblage of hearsay drawn from the statements of each party.

It nevertheless raises a number of questions about the president's version of events, which denies any wrongdoing and claims that the stolen money came from the sale of 20 buffaloes to a Sudanese businessman.

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Why weren't the wads of banknotes safe in a bank? How come the buffaloes are still on the President's property nearly three years after their sale, questions the report, which expresses serious doubts about the origin of the sums.

Also under criminal investigation, Mr. Ramaphosa has not been charged at this stage.

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