South African parliament votes against Ramaphosa impeachment inquiry

South African parliament votes against Ramaphosa impeachment inquiry

South African parliament votes against Ramaphosa impeachment inquiry


South African President Ramaphosa survived a move to initiate impeachment proceedings against him in a vote in parliament on Tuesday.

The move was widely expected, after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) top leadership called on its parliamentary caucus to block the investigation.

One by one, MPs were asked to cast their votes in person after requests to hold the vote secretly were allegedly rejected by the Speaker of Parliament.

There were a few ‘yes’ votes from ANC members and a couple of no-shows, but their caucus largely held together. Opposition parties were mostly united in calling for an impeachment inquiry. Voting required a simple majority.

The vote came after an independent group found there is initial evidence that he may have broken his oath.

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

The jury, led by a former chief justice, found that the crime had not been reported to the police and that there had been a “deliberate decision to keep the investigation secret”.

After initial speculation that he would resign, Ramaphosa’s lawyers sought to challenge the jury’s findings in court. The president has repeatedly denied the allegations saying the money came from the sale of wild animals on his Phala Phala farm.

Later this week, the president will attend an ANC electoral conference, where 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 give a fuller explanation for the money and the ANC caucus for backing it.

“You are so desperate to avoid any kind of investigation into the crimes that have occurred on and in relation to Phala Phala Farm that you have decided to spit in the face of the freedoms and institutions that so many people have fought and died for” , he said. 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 that’s how you intend to vote today, in a unified shield against accountability and oversight, just like you did in Zuma’s time, then shame on you,” said John Steenhuisen , leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, referring to Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, who was never censured by parliament but was ultimately forced to resign after a corruption scandal.

ANC members said the report did not provide enough evidence to proceed towards impeachment proceedings. The president could still face multiple investigations outside parliament.

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