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S. African Parliament Gets Ramaphosa Report

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FILE - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at Lancaster House in London. Taken Sept. 18, 2022.

UPDATED WITH MORE INFORMATION FROM PARLIAMENT: A three-member panel set up to inquire if South African President Cyril Ramaphosa should be impeached after millions of dollars in cash were discovered at his private farm submitted its recommendations to the parliament on Wednesday.

The three-person team, led by an ex-chief justice, handed its report to National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at a televised ceremony in Cape Town.

The panel, formed in September, sought to find any preliminary evidence of wrongdoing by the president.

"The handover of the report... marks one of the indicative milestones in South Africa's maturing constitutional democracy," Mapisa-Nqakula said upon receiving the two-volume report.

The panel was set up in September to probe the 2020 alleged cover-up of a theft at Ramaphosa's farmhouse -- a scandal that has tarnished the president's reputation and overshadowed his bid for re-election at the helm of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

It was tasked with ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that the president committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or a serious misconduct, Mapisa-Nqakula said.

In June, it emerged that an estimated $4 million was robbed at the farm back in 2020, raising questions about how the billionaire president, who took to power on the promise to fight graft, acquired the cash and whether he declared it.

While Ramaphosa has confirmed that a robbery occurred, 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.

It was tasked with ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to show that the president committed a serious violation of the constitution or the law or a serious misconduct, Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing..

The timing of the scandal could hardly be worse as the president is less than a month away from an elective conference that will decide if he gets to run for a second term on the governing African National Congress's (ANC) ticket at 2024 polls.

"Dragging the president before an impeachment process is a huge decision, it cannot be done on flimsy (grounds), it has to be something tangible," former chief justice and panel chairman Sandile Ngcobo said at the handover of the recommendations.

The chances of impeachment are slim given the ANC's dominance of parliament, where it holds 230 seats, or nearly 60% of the total, and typically votes along party lines. Impeaching a president requires a two-third majority.

This story will be updated when information in the report is released

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