South Africa’s ruling party said it would tell its lawmakers to reject a report that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have committed misconduct over a stash of cash in his farm, giving him a lifeline as he faced the biggest scandal of his career.
Almost simultaneously, Ramaphosa asked the country’s top court to throw out the independent panel’s findings over the “Farmgate” affair, which critics have said should force his resignation.
“The president continues with his duties as president of the ANC and the republic,” Paul Mashatile, Treasurer-General of the ruling African National Congress, said.
The inquiry panel appointed by the speaker of parliament looked into accusations that thieves had found large amounts of cash stuffed into furniture at Ramaphosa’s private game farm in 2020 and that he had failed to report it when they stole the money.
The theft raised questions about how Ramaphosa, who came to power on the promise to fight graft, acquired the money and whether he declared it.
Ramaphosa has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.
The president has said the money was much less than the four million dollars to eight million dollars reported, and that it was the proceeds of game sales at the farm.
The panel’s report, released last Wednesday, left him fighting for his political survival and raised questions over whether he would be able to lead the ANC into elections and secure a second term.
A copy of court papers filed by Ramaphosa’s lawyers in the Constitutional Court showed Ramaphosa wanted the panel report “reviewed, declared unlawful, and set aside.”
Ramaphosa also wants any steps taken by the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, over the panel report to be declared unlawful and invalid, the papers showed.
South Africa’s parliament postponed by a week to Dec. 13 a debate that had been scheduled for Tuesday on the report.
“I submit that the panel misconceived its mandate, misjudged the information placed before it, and misinterpreted the four charges advanced against me,” Ramaphosa said in his sworn statement to the Constitutional Court.