South Africa’s lawmakers delay debate on president’s future

Dec 5, 2022, 2:38 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 4:54 am

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, center, leaves an African National Congress (ANC) national...

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, center, leaves an African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday Dec. 5, 2022. Ramaphosa might lose his job, and his reputation as a corruption fighter, as he faces possible impeachment over claims that he tried to cover up the theft of millions of dollars stashed inside a couch on his farm. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s lawmakers have postponed until next week a debate on the damning report that has resulted in calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

The session was scheduled to take place in Cape Town on Tuesday to discuss a parliamentary panel’s report that found Ramaphosa may have broken anti-corruption laws in relation to the theft of a large sum of dollars from his Phala Phala farm in 2020.

The much-awaited sitting has been moved to Dec. 13 to allow time for all lawmakers to attend the sitting in person instead of joining it virtually, according to a decision by parliament’s programming committee.

Since the Parliament building was gutted by a fire in January this year lawmakers have had hybrid sessions, with some attending sessions in person at Cape Town City Hall while others joined online via the internet.

The debate is expected to be followed by a motion by opposition parties to impeach Ramaphosa. The ANC commands a majority in parliament and opposition parties would need a two-thirds majority vote to impeach Ramaphosa.

Lawmakers agreed that voting would have to take place by roll-call, which requires all members of Parliament to be present.

Parliament earlier rejected an application by the African Transformation Movement party for the vote to be held through a secret ballot.

The ANC announced on Monday that it would vote against the adoption of the report critical of Ramaphosa and any moves to impeach him. The party’s National Executive Committee decided to stand by the president. Ramaphosa, meanwhile, has taken legal action to challenge the report in the Constitutional Court.

The report was drafted by an independent panel appointed to probe allegations leveled by the country’s former intelligence head, Arthur Fraser, that Ramaphosa illegally held foreign currency on his game ranch and then tried to cover up the theft of an estimated $4 million from his Phala Phala farm.

Fraser accused Ramaphosa of money laundering and violating the country’s tax and foreign exchange control laws, but the president has denied any wrongdoing, saying the money was from the sale of buffalo from his ranch.

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