South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, embroiled in scandal and under threat of impeachment, has no intention of resigning and will fight both politically and judicially, his spokesperson said.
Ramaphosa’s position came into question after an independent parliamentary panel said in a report he might have violated the oath of office with regards to millions of dollars in cash found at his private game farm.
“President Ramaphosa is not resigning based on a flawed report, (nor) is he stepping aside,” Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, told journalists by text message.
“The President has taken to heart the unequivocal message coming from the branches of the governing party who have nominated him to avail himself for a 2nd term of the leadership of the ANC.”
Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.
On Wednesday, a three-member parliamentary panel, including a former chief justice of the country’s highest court, said Ramaphosa “may have committed” acts contrary to the law and the constitution, paving the way for impeachment proceedings.
The president has not been charged with anything at this point, and the police inquiry is ongoing.
But the scandal, complete with details of more than half a million dollars in cash being hidden under sofa cushions, comes at the worst possible moment for the president.
On December 16, Ramaphosa contests elections for the ANC presidency – a position that also holds the key to staying on as national president.
“The president has taken to heart the unequivocal message coming from the branches of the governing party who have nominated him to avail himself for a second term of the leadership of the ANC,” Magwenya said, using the acronym of the African National Congress, South Africa’s social-democratic political party.
Ramaphosa understood that “to mean he must continue with both the state and economic reforms”, he added.
“The president has, with humility and with great care and commitment, accepted that call to continue being of service to his organization, the ANC, and to the people of South Africa.”
The ANC leadership met briefly in Johannesburg on Friday, before telling journalists it would look more closely at the facts of the case against the president.
The members of the ANC will gather at a special National Working Committee meeting on Sunday which will be followed by a National Executive Committee meeting on Monday where they will decide the future course of action for Ramaphosa, the ANC said.
The president would challenge the report and its findings, the spokesperson said.
“It is in the long-term interest of our constitutional democracy, well beyond the Ramaphosa presidency, that such a clearly flawed report is challenged, especially when it’s being used as a point of reference to remove a sitting head of state,” he said.
Even the head of the South African Anglican Church warned that if Ramaphosa resigned, the country would be in danger of falling “into anarchy”.