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Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa leader’s future in doubt amid scandal

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Cyril Ramaphosa

Just last month the president was in the UK on a state visit where he met members of the British Royal Family

The future of South Africa’s president is in doubt as pressure mounts following an official report said he may have violated the constitution.

Cyril Ramaphosa stands accused of covering up the theft of vast amounts of cash at his farm, which he denies.

On Friday his ANC party held crisis talks, but they were adjourned after just 45 minutes.

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Party officials plan to meet the president on Saturday, said ANC acting Secretary-General Paul Mashatile.

“The president was not in the meeting. He’s busy consulting and so, as far as we are concerned, the issue of the president putting his intention to resign or not did not arise,” Mr Mashatile said.

What was in the report?

The scandal centres on claims the president tried to hide the theft of some $580,000 (£470,000) – and possibly much more – which was stashed down the back of a sofa in his farmhouse in 2020. That has led to questions about where the cash came from.

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Mr Ramaphosa denies wrongdoing and said the money was on his farm from selling buffaloes.

However, the buffaloes which he said had been sold remain on his farm, and South Africa has strict rules on holding foreign currency, saying it cannot be held for more than 30 days.

An independent panel of legal experts looked into the allegations for South Africa’s parliament and concluded that the president may have broken the law and abused his position.

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Despite support from some in his party, others are calling for Mr Ramaphosa to go.

However, even if his party backs him, Mr Ramaphosa could still be deposed by parliament, provided they find him guilty of serious misconduct and hold a vote to remove him from office. But this requires a two-thirds majority and ANC MPs would be likely to block it, if the party says he should remain in office.

The scandal is especially damaging for Mr Ramaphosa because he came to power vowing to clear up the corruption which had dogged the country under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

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The ANC remains deeply divided between supporters of Mr Zuma and those who back Mr Ramaphosa.

What happens if Ramaphosa leaves?

Mr Ramaphosa would stand down as ANC leader first, before quitting as president of the country.

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According to the constitution, if the president becomes sick or leaves office, the deputy president should take over.

However, the current Deputy President, David Mabuza, is not hugely popular within the party and has also been accused of corruption, which he too denies.

So as the party with a majority in parliament, the ANC could decide to choose someone else instead.

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