Cape Town: A three-member board set up to investigate the discovery of millions of dollars in cash on a private farm owned by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented its recommendations to parliament on Wednesday.
In June, it emerged that an estimated $4 million had been looted at the farm in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who took office on a promise to fight corruption, obtained the cash and whether he declared it.
The board, framed in September, sought to find any preliminary evidence of wrongdoing by the president. Its decisions are expected to be released later in the day. While Ramaphosa has confirmed that a robbery occurred, he said the cash was from proceeds from the sales of the game. He has denied violating the law or any regulations relating to his office.
The timing of the scandal could barely be worse as the president is less than a month away from an elective conference that will decide if he gets to run for a second term on the governing African National Congress’s (ANC) ticket at 2024 polls. Ramaphosa, however, remains a clear favorite to win at the Dec. 16-20 conference.
“Dragging the president before an impeachment process is a huge decision, it cannot be done on flimsy (grounds), it has to be something tangible,” former chief justice and panel chairman Sandile Ngcobo said at the handover of the recommendations.
The chances of impeachment are slim given the ANC’s dominance in parliament, where it holds 230 seats, or about 60% of the total, and generally votes along party lines. A two-thirds majority is required to impeach the President. The inquiry is separate from a criminal investigation that the police are conducting, and which has been welcomed by Ramaphosa.
The report will be debated in the national assembly on Dec. 6 said the Speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.