South Africa’s parliament votes against Ramaphosa impeachment inquiry


South African President Ramaphosa survived a motion to begin impeachment proceedings against him in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.

The move was widely expected after the top leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) urged its parliamentary group to block the probe.

One by one, MPs were asked to cast their votes in person after requests for a secret ballot were rejected by the Speaker of Parliament.

There were a few yes votes from ANC members and a few no-shows, but their faction was largely cohesive. The opposition parties were largely in agreement to call for impeachment proceedings. Voting required a simple majority.

The vote came after an independent panel found initial evidence that he may have broken his oath of office.

The findings stem from an ongoing scandal surrounding the theft of more than $500,000 in cash from his private game farm in 2020. The cash was stuffed into a leather sofa, according to the panel’s investigation.

The panel, led by a former chief justice, found that the crime was not reported to the police and that there was a “conscious decision to keep the investigation secret”.

After initial speculation about his resignation, Ramaphosa’s lawyers have sought to challenge the panel’s findings in court. The President has repeatedly denied allegations that the money came from the sale of wild animals at his Phala Phala farm.

Later this week, the president will attend an ANC election conference he is widely expected to win.

The vote was preceded by a lively debate in which opposition party leaders criticized both the President for failing to provide a fuller explanation for the money and the ANC faction for backing him.

“You are so desperate to avoid any kind of investigation into the crimes that have occurred at and in connection with Phala Phala Farm that you have decided to spit in the face of the freedoms and institutions that so many people care for fought and died for,” he told Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

“As long as you have the numbers in Parliament you can make any scandal go away, and if you want to vote like that today, in a unified shield against accountability and oversight, just like you did in the Zuma days, then shame on you.” , said John Steenhuisen, leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, referring to Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, who was never reprimanded by Parliament but was eventually forced to resign after a corruption scandal.

ANC members said the report did not provide enough evidence to launch an impeachment inquiry. The President could still face several investigations outside of Parliament.

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