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Opposition condemns ANC for shielding Ramaphosa against graft probe

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema speaks during a debate to the possibility of initiating proceedings to impeach South African Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa   -  
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South Africa

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress party, which holds a majority in the parliament, largely stood with President Ramaphosa, preventing the motion from getting the two-thirds vote needed to proceed with his impeachment.

However, the opposition Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, criticized the move vowing to go to court.

"Today it's a sad day in South Africa, where parliament sits to reject a report that is of their own initiative that was spending not less than 6 million on doing those investigations and thus decided to throw that 6 million into a bin. It's a sad day for the constitution of South Africa, and for the democracy of South Africa. We think there is no rational reason why we came to the conclusion we came to, and as a result, we are going to court to challenge this decision of Parliament," said Malema.

Another opposition party the Democratic Alliance faulted members of the ruling party for shielding Ramaphosa from facing justice over corruption allegations. They termed it an indeed sad day for democracy and the parliament.

"This is the same old agency that rallied around and protected and shielded Jacob Zuma from accountability just as they've rallied around the president today. There was no harm in the report going forward, the president would have been given ample opportunity to state his case, to point the deficiencies of the report, and instead the ANC has just simply shut this down to prevent any further progress on it. I think it's a sad day for Parliament," said John Steenhuisen, the leader of the Democratic Alliance.

At least four ANC lawmakers broke ranks with the party line and voted along with the opposition parties in favour of the impeachment process, including Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, currently a minister in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet and high-ranking ANC leader.  

Dlamini-Zuma lost against Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency at its last national conference in 2017.

Other notable figures who voted in favour of Ramaphosa’s impeachment were Supra Mahumapelo and Mosebenzi Zwane, known rivals of Ramaphosa and allies of former president Jacob Zuma, indicating the extent of divisions within the ANC.

During the Tuesday seating, ANC lawmakers argued that the panel that drafted the report did not present enough evidence to warrant the impeachment of Ramaphosa.

They said that other law enforcement agencies are still probing the matter.

They also cited Ramaphosa’s application for a judicial review of the report, saying parliament should await the outcome of that process before proceeding with any move against the president.

The parliamentary vote comes in a week where Ramaphosa will also be fighting for his political life as he seeks to be re-elected the leader of the ANC at its national conference starting in Johannesburg on Friday.

The conference will also elect members of the party’s National Executive Committee, which is the party's highest decision-making body.

Ramaphosa must be re-elected as the ANC leader in order to stand for re-election to a second term as South Africa's president in 2024.

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