By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party on Friday postponed a meeting to discuss the fate of President Cyril Ramaphosa, accused of concealing a crime in a new anti-corruption report released this week.
Members of the party's highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC) including former President Thabo Mbeki had gathered in the afternoon, but the meeting was soon adjourned.
Party Treasurer and acting Secretary-General Paul Mashatile told reporters they would first submit the panel report to the ANC's national working committee, with the NEC to hold another meeting by Tuesday.
An independent panel led by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo released a report that found President Ramaphosa guilty of not reporting a $4 million theft at his private farm in the Limpopo province in 2020.
The panel was set up in September after former intelligence chief Arthur Fraser filed a criminal complaint against Ramaphosa in June, accusing him of money laundering and covering up the theft.
Its findings were handed over to parliament speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday night.
Opposition politicians and opponents within the ANC have been calling for Ramaphosa to resign and the country to hold an early election.
On Thursday, Ramaphosa cancelled multiple engagements, including an appearance before the National Council of Provinces, the parliament's upper house, where he was scheduled to answer questions.
Ramaphosa also skipped Friday's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Johannesburg that would have discussed his fate as he was in Cape Town consulting on the issue.
The president has denied any wrongdoing.
"I have never stolen taxpayers' money. I want to reaffirm that I was not involved in any criminal conduct," said Ramaphosa, who is seeking reelection as ANC leader later this month.
His spokesman said the president would "step aside" if he was charged for the alleged criminal cover-up.
Dirk Kotze, a political scientist at the University of South Africa, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that parliament would decide on Tuesday "whether the motion to impeach the president should go ahead or not."
"I think the ANC, which has the majority in parliament, will vote against it," he said, adding that Ramaphosa would have a "good chance" of being reelected as the party's leader if this happens.