The future of the South African president is under scrutiny by the ruling party

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JOHANNESBURG — A crucial meeting of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, to discuss President Cyril Ramaphosa’s future started in Johannesburg on Monday, party officials confirmed.

The meeting is expected to decide whether Ramaphosa should remain his leader or step down after a damning parliamentary report on the theft of large sums of dollars from his farm in 2020.

The report was produced by an independent panel hired to investigate allegations by the country’s former intelligence chief Arthur Fraser that Ramaphosa attempted to steal an estimated $4 million from his phala phala farm in the province to cover up Limpopo.

Fraser accused Ramaphosa of money laundering and violating the country’s tax and exchange control laws.

The ANC meeting comes a day before the report is debated and the vote is taken to launch impeachment proceedings against the President.

Ramaphosa is being urged by his critics within the party and by opposition parties to resign after the report suggested he may have broken anti-corruption laws by failing to properly report the theft to police and raising questions about the origin of the money.

Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the money came from selling animals on his farm and that he had reported the matter to the head of his Presidential Protection Unit.

The meeting is expected to decide how to proceed on the matter and instruct lawmakers in parliament on how to handle Tuesday’s parliamentary debate and vote, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe told reporters on Monday.

“We know that the release of the Section 89 Report has generated a lot of public interest as it relates to the future of the African National Congress and its leader in the person of the President.

“We can assure you that the ANC has the capacity to handle all of this, we have done so in the past and we will do so now,” Mabe said.

Ramaphosa briefly attended the meeting and withdrew when it came to an issue affecting him personally, Mabe said.

Ramaphosa was also barred from a meeting of the party’s national working committee held on Sunday.

The ANC’s 86-member national executive committee is the party’s highest decision-making body and has the power to force the president to resign and direct his lawmakers how to vote on various issues.

The ANC still retains a majority of seats in parliament, enough to block a vote by all opposition parties to launch impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa.

Earlier, spokeswoman Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced that a request for a secret ballot by one of the opposition parties had been rejected by Parliament.

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