An independent panel appointed by South Africa’s parliament’s speaker has found preliminary evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa violated his oath of office, findings that could lead to his impeachment.
Parliament will review the report, which was submitted on Wednesday, and decide whether to pursue impeachment proceedings the following week.
This comes just weeks before an elective conference that will decide whether Ramaphosa will be able to run for a second term on the ticket of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 2024 elections.
The president immediately denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.
“I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me,” Ramaphosa said in a statement issued by the South African presidency on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he delayed an appearance in parliament to answer questions, requesting time to consider the report, noting that the panel’s recommendations had “implications for the stability of the country,” parliament said in a statement.
In June, it emerged that an estimated $4m in cash was stolen from Ramaphosa’s game farm in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who took to power on the promise of fighting corruption, acquired the money and whether he declared it.
The three-person panel was set up in September and tasked with ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that Ramaphosa committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or grave misconduct, National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said when she was handed the report earlier on Wednesday.
The panel said Ramaphosa should face further scrutiny on his ability to stay in office.
“In all the circumstances, we think that the evidence presented to the Panel, prima facie, establishes that the president may be guilty of a serious violation of certain sections of the constitution,” the report found.
These include not reporting the theft directly to police, acting in a way inconsistent with holding office and exposing himself to a clash between his official responsibilities and his private business.
While Ramaphosa has confirmed that a robbery occurred at his farm, he said the cash was from proceeds from the sales of game. He has denied breaking the law or any regulations relating to his office.