South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed allegations of internal corruption that have raised questions about his future during a visit to Britain on Thursday, but rejected suggestions that his presidency could be disrupted.
Lawmakers in Pretoria next month will debate the findings of a special panel investigating whether he should face impeachment over allegations he covered up a crime.
The controversy risks derailing his bid for a second term as president of the African National Congress (ANC).
He allegedly failed to report a holdup at his luxury cattle farm in which robbers took $4 million in cash and instead arranged for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.
Asked if he was concerned the panel’s findings could end his presidency, he said “no” and told reporters he had faith in South Africa’s “democracy and institutions”.
“I presented my case, let’s let the panel determine the outcome,” he said at the conclusion of his two-day state visit, the first organized by King Carlos III.
“We can’t prejudge it…let’s let the panel report and anything else that comes out of that we’ll handle then,” he said.
The scandal has tarnished the image of Ramaphosa, a protégé of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. In 2018, Ramaphosa had been heralded as a clean pair of hands after former President Jacob Zuma’s bribery-tainted era.
The panel’s findings will be released just weeks before the deeply divided ruling ANC meets to choose a leader.
Ramaphosa also defended his visit to Britain on Thursday at a time when South Africa suffers the loss of two million jobs caused by the Covid pandemic and continuous power cuts causing misery for citizens.
Blackouts are costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars in production losses, disrupting commerce and industry.
Ramaphosa said the country was “reaping the whirlwind” of years of lack of maintenance, investment and experience.
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 big meeting with the prime minister (Rishi Sunak). We put our message across very strongly that we want investment to improve and more and more British companies to invest in our country,” he said.
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