S.African president ready to face crunch probe finding

South Africa South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was confident of staying in office.  By JUSTIN TALLIS AFP
NOV 24, 2022 LISTEN
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was confident of staying in office. By JUSTIN TALLIS (AFP)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed domestic corruption claims that have prompted questions over his future during a visit to the UK on Thursday, but rejected suggestions they could cut short his presidency.

Lawmakers in Pretoria will next month debate the findings of a special panel probing whether he should face impeachment over allegations that he covered up a crime.

The controversy risks derailing his bid for a second term as African National Congress (ANC) president.

It is alleged he failed to report a heist at his luxury cattle farmhouse in which robbers took $4 million in cash, and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.

Asked if he was concerned that the panel's findings could put an end to his presidency, he said "no" and told reporters he had faith in South Africa's "democracy and institutions".

"I have put my case forward, let us leave it to the panel to come up with the outcome," he said as he wrapped up his two-day state visit, the first to be hosted by King Charles III.

"We cannot prejudge it... let's leave it to the panel to report and anything else that flows from that we handle then," he said.

The scandal has stained the image of Ramaphosa, a protege of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. In 2018 Ramaphosa had been trumpeted as a clean pair of hands after the graft-tainted era of former president Jacob Zuma.

The panel's findings are due to come just weeks before the deeply divided ruling ANC gathers to elect a leader.

Ramaphosa on Thursday also defended his visit to Britain at a time when South Africa is suffering from the loss of two million jobs caused by the Covid pandemic and rolling power cuts causing misery for citizens.

Blackouts are costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars in lost output, disrupting commerce and industry.

Ramaphosa said the country was "reaping the whirlwind" of years of lack of maintenance, investment and expertise.

But he said such visits were vital to promote investment and cooperation opportunities that would have positive benefits for the people of South Africa.

"We had a really great meeting with the prime minister (Rishi Sunak). We put our message across very strongly that we want investment to be upgraded and more and more British companies to invest in our country," he said.