A crucial meeting of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, to discuss the future of President Cyril Ramaphosa kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday, party officials confirmed.
The meeting is expected to decide whether Ramaphosa should remain in charge or step down following a damning parliamentary report into the theft of large sums of money from his farm in 2020.
The report was written by an independent panel appointed to investigate claims by the country’s former intelligence chief Arthur Fraser that Ramaphosa tried to cover up the theft of around $4 million from his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo province.
Fraser accused Ramaphosa of money laundering and violating the country’s tax and exchange control laws.
The ANC meeting comes a day before lawmakers are due to debate the report and vote on whether to start impeachment proceedings against the president.
Ramaphosa is facing calls from critics in the party and opposition parties to step down after the report suggests he may have broken anti-corruption laws by failing to properly report the theft to the police and raised questions about the source of the money.
Ramaphosa denied any wrongdoing, saying the money came from the sale of animals on his farm and that he reported the matter to the head of his presidential protection unit.
The meeting is to decide how to proceed on the issue and instruct its lawmakers in parliament on how to handle Tuesday’s parliamentary debate and vote, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said on Monday. to journalists.
“We know that the release of the Article 89 report has sparked great public interest in the future of the African National Congress and its leader, the President.
“We can assure you that the ANC is capable of handling all of this, we have done it in the past and we will do it now,” Mabe said.
Ramaphosa briefly attended the meeting and recused himself as he discussed a matter that concerned him personally, Mabe said.
Ramaphosa was also recused from a meeting of the party’s national working committee, which took place on Sunday.
The ANC’s national executive committee, with 86 members, is the party’s highest decision-making body and has the power to force the president out of office and instruct its lawmakers on how to vote on various issues.
The ANC still retains a majority of seats in parliament, enough to block a vote by all opposition parties to begin impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa.
Earlier, President Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced that a request by one of the opposition parties to have a secret ballot had been rejected by parliament.
The Independent Gt