South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has endured many scandals over the last few months, is facing calls to resign following the publishing of the Section 89 parliamentary panel report. The Section 89 panel found that President Ramaphosa may have committed severe Constitutional violations by committing acts that created a conflict of interest, doing paid work outside his role as president, and contravening South Africa’s Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act.
The Section 89 panel’s report would need to be adopted in Parliament in order to be enacted and pave the way for impeachment proceedings to begin. The panel pointed at various actions by the president that point to questionable and perhaps illegal activity. The report specifically mentions the Phala Phala scandal, questioning the money that was stolen, why the robbery was not properly reported, and why the South African Police Services asked their Namibian counterparts to handle the issue of the robbery discreetly.
“There was more foreign currency concealed in the sofa than the amount reflected in the acknowledgement of receipt. This raises the source of the additional currency…” the report said. “The president abused his position as head of state to have the matter investigated and seeking the assistance of the Namibian president to apprehend a suspect.”
The president’s administration released a statement saying that Ramaphosa was studying the report and would make an announcement in time. “I have endeavored, throughout my tenure as president, not only to abide by my oath but to set an example of respect for the Constitution, for its institutions, for due process and the law. I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me,” the statement said.
The publishing of the report has led to calls for Ramaphosa to step down from his role as President. These calls have come from Ramaphosa’s opponents and fellow party members in the political party he leads, The African National Congress (ANC). The Democratic Alliance has called for impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa to begin and further called for the dissolving of South Africa’s parliament and that elections be held early. The Economic Freedom Fighter’s leader, Commander in Chief Julius Malema, simply tweeted “Gone” while his deputy Floyd Shivambu wrote, “Done! We can’t be led by criminal presidents!” Ramaphosa’s opponents in the ANC have also called on him to step aside or resign. Former President of the ANC Women’s League Bathabile Dlamini called on her colleague to step down. “He must not step aside, he must resign. He has compromised himself, he has compromised the ANC and the country,” Dlamini said on Thursday. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Ramaphosa should step aside during an interview.
The publishing of the report comes at a worrying time for President Ramaphosa. The ANC’s National Elective Conference takes place at the Nasrec Expo Center in Johannesburg from December 16th to 20th. The National Executive Conference will see the election of the party’s powerful top six positions.
Ramaphosa was the favorite to retain the presidency but it remains to be seen how the Section 89 panel report will affect his ambitions for a second term.