South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) had decided to retain its rule that anyone charged with corruption or other crimes must step down while they are being investigated.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the conclusion of a three-day national policy conference which brought together ANC delegates nationally for the first time in five years.
Many ANC members, especially those loyal to former President Jacob Zuma, currently being investigated for corruption, want the rule scrapped, claiming it was being used to persecute political opponents.
Scrapping the rule would have allowed potential challengers to vie against him for the ANC ticket in 2024 presidential elections – especially Ace Magashule, who was suspended as party secretary general last year after being charged with corruption.
Ramaphosa has taken a harder line on corruption since taking over as ANC leader in December 2017 and removing the rule also would have allowed several Zuma allies in various local governments to resume office.
Ramaphosa himself faces a police investigation of his finances after thieves stole $4 million from his farm in June, and his opponents are hoping to use this to unseat him.
If he is charged with any irregularity – such as failing to declare the money to tax authorities or violating exchange controls – then he himself might be forced to step aside.
Ramaphosa says the money was proceeds from sales of game animals on the farm, and has welcomed the investigation.
The party will chose its candidate at the end of this year.