Cyril Ramaphosa, 70, is the only candidate ahead of his former health minister, Zweli Mkhize, for president of the African National Congress (ANC). The party meets next week to decide who will lead the country if the increasingly contested ANC wins the 2024 general election.
But before that internal vote, Parliament will decide on Tuesday whether to launch impeachment proceedings against the president: Mr. Ramaphosa is accused of trying to conceal a burglary at one of his properties, during which large sums of cash were found hidden in a sofa.
The ANC, which has a large majority in parliament, has given him official support, making a forced departure unlikely. But some have accused the party’s top brass of trying to silence dissenting voices within the all-powerful National Executive Committee (NEC) that heads it.
The president, who is in trouble just days before a crucial election, went hunting outside his home province of Cape Town on Saturday. The province is traditionally favoured by the first opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which won more than 50 per cent of the votes in the last local elections.
Asked by journalists about a possible withdrawal following the burglary case in which he is not charged at this stage, Mr. Ramaphosa replied with a smile: “There is no problem, there is no crisis, relax. Before putting an end to the questions.
Later, walking between the corrugated iron shacks of a township, the president was followed by a restless crowd, dressed in green, black and yellow, the colors of the ANC. Supporters shouted, “My president! My president!”
But the word “corruption” was also on some lips: “I am happy to see him. But corruption in the ANC is killing our communities,” Simphiwe Ngxamngxa, in his 40s, told AFP, listing the needs in deprived areas where access to water and electricity is not guaranteed.