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Delicate week for the South African president, threatened with impeachment

Calm has returned to the top of the state, after days of great uncertainty.

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Delicate week for the South African president, threatened with impeachment

Calm has returned to the top of the state, after days of great uncertainty. The ANC, in power since the end of apartheid and which meets on Monday to discuss the fate of the president, seems to have found a majority to support him, despite deep divisions amid factional warfare.

A demonstration in green, yellow and black, the colors of the ANC, is announced in front of the building where the caciques of the party, the all-powerful National Executive Committee (NEC), will meet in the morning in the presence of the president.

In a blue shirt, visibly relaxed and even hilarious, Mr. Ramaphosa spoke on Sunday to a few journalists gathered in front of this conference center, where a meeting of ANC delegates was already being held. These activists preferred, to discuss the case concerning him, that he does not participate. "It's always better," he admitted with a smile.

Last Thursday, the local press understands, "Cyril", as South Africans call him familiarly, was ready to throw in the towel, the day after the publication of a report by a parliamentary commission, according to which he "was able to commit" acts contrary to the law in the scandal of "Phala Phala", named after one of his properties.

A complaint, filed in June, accuses him of having tried to silence a burglary at his home in February 2020, by not declaring it to the police or the tax authorities: the criminals then took away $ 580,000 in cash … camouflaged under sofa cushions.

Ramaphosa has claimed his innocence for months, but his explanations did not convince the parliamentary commission. However, he is not charged in this case, the police investigation continues.

- Political battle -

On Saturday, his spokesman announced that in addition to the political battle he will wage to stay in office and even run for a second term, at a crucial ANC conference in mid-December, Mr. Ramaphosa will also fight in the courts, where he will challenge the validity of this report.

"It is in the interest ... of our democracy, well beyond the Ramaphosa presidency, that such a flawed report be questioned, especially when it is used as a reference point to impeach a current head of state," Vincent Magwenya told AFP on Saturday.

The Parliament, meeting Tuesday in extraordinary session on the eve of the great holidays of the southern summer, must vote to decide whether or not to launch a procedure for the dismissal of the president on the basis of this report.

A majority of 50% is needed to trigger the procedure. If launched, it would then require a two-thirds majority to successfully remove the president. Knowing that the ANC, despite strong divisions, holds a comfortable majority in Parliament.

“At the end of the day, this decision on impeachment will be entirely political”, underlines a judicial source who wishes to remain anonymous, pointing out that the American presidents Bill Clinton or Donald Trump escaped it “because the necessary majorities could not be found by their adversaries".

It is not even certain that Parliament will vote to launch the procedure. So suspenseful.

Many lawyers - they have feverishly succeeded in recent days on TV sets, point out the flaws in the report accusing the president. For lack of access to the criminal investigation, which is ongoing, it is largely based on "hearsay", multiplying suppositions and rhetorical questions on the sole basis of the initial complaint, filed by a notorious opponent of the president, and of his statements.

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