Johannesburg, 19 Dec.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been re-elected as leader of the African National Congress (ANC), which he has ruled since 1994, despite an alleged corruption scandal that has threatened his political future in recent weeks, the party announced today.

In a vote held this Sunday, the 70-year-old president prevailed by 2,476 votes in the race for leadership over former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who obtained 1,897 votes at the 55th ANC National Conference, which has been held since last Friday through tomorrow at the Nasrec Exhibition Center in Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa was re-elected to a five-year term in a vote involving more than 4,000 party delegates, mired in a popularity crisis that could cost him his absolute majority in Parliament in the near future.

His only rival, Mkhize, 66, was health minister until he resigned in August 2021 after Ramaphosa suspended him over allegations that his department awarded irregular Covid-19-related contracts to relatives and relatives.

The leader of the formation, founded in 1912, is usually the presidential candidate in this country, which plans to hold general elections in 2024, so, unless unforeseen, Ramaphosa will head the ANC electoral poster in those elections.

The president made an appeal this Friday for the unity of his party, while songs and shouts from his detractors interrupted his opening speech at the National Conference, marked by the division between his followers and supporters of former president Jacob Zuma and delays due to problems logistic.

“The disunity of the CNA does not arise from ideological, political or strategic differences, but from a dispute over positions in the State and the resources related to them,” stressed the head of state.

Ramaphosa vindicated the ideals of freedom that gave rise to the ANC, but recognized that there is still a long way to go to achieve “equality” for all South Africans, who still suffer “high levels of poverty and unemployment.”

Likewise, the president attributed the serious electrical crisis that the country is going through, with rotating blackouts, to mismanagement and corruption in the indebted state company Eskom.

“An important part of the work to reverse the effects of ‘State Capture’ is the recovery of funds that were illegally or improperly paid to a number of companies,” he said.

The “State Capture” is a major investigation into the corruption that plagued the South African public apparatus during the tenure of his predecessor, Zuma, 80, to whose faction in the ANC Mkhize is linked.

Ramaphosa came to congress after the National Assembly (lower house of Parliament) on Tuesday rejected a report accusing him of possible violation of anti-corruption laws in the million-dollar robbery scandal at his farm in Phala Phala (north) and that he could have triggered a process for his dismissal.

The report threatened his political future as head of state, questioned by some rebel deputies from the ANC and the opposition, who pushed to force a resignation that seemed imminent on December 1, the day after the report was published.

On the 5th, Ramaphosa challenged before the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court, the report of an independent panel appointed by Parliament that ensures that he could have violated several anti-corruption laws in the aforementioned scandal.

The panel was due to review the motion filed against the president by the opposition African Transformation Movement (ATM) party in June this year.

The ATM accused Ramaphosa, among other charges, of breaching the Constitution, which prohibits members of the Government from performing other paid professional work, after the president admitted that he is dedicated to the sale of prey animals, by ensuring that the money stolen came from that business (where cash is customary) and not from a money laundering operation.

The case broke out in June, when the former head of the country’s spy agency, Arthur Fraser, sued the president, accusing him of hiding from the South African Police and Treasury a theft of almost 4 million euros hidden in Phala Phala on 9 February 2020.

The Presidency already denied Fraser’s accusations in June and confirmed that a robbery took place that day, when Ramaphosa was attending an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The president alleged in his response to questions from the panel that the sum stolen was less, 580,000 dollars (about 550,000 euros).

A former union leader and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as president in 2018, pledging to tackle the corruption and economic malaise unleashed during his predecessor’s nine-year rule.

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