If President Cyril Ramaphosa were to resign, it would be "chaotic" for the country and the ruling party, according to African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson Gwede Mantashe.
The mineral resources and energy minister was interviewed by the SABC at Nasrec, Gauteng, ahead of a meeting with ANC leadership on Friday. The party's National Executive Committee is meeting to discuss Ramaphosa's fate following the release of an independent panel report on Wednesday, with findings against him related to the handling of a theft of $580 000 in cash at his game farm in Limpopo, Phala Phala.
According to the panel, the President "may have committed serious violations" and breached anticorruption laws, News24 reported.
Mantashe said the report has "a lot of loopholes" and can be challenged. "If it were me, I would have kicked dust about it," he added. But unlike him, Ramaphosa would probably take a more "gentle" approach, Mantashe said.
"I think we must give him space to do that."
He also pointed out the use of the phrasing " may have" which indicates the findings against the President are still to be tested.
"No one says the President has committed a crime… it says he 'may have which opens a way for a parliamentary process," said Mantashe.
He emphasised that space should be created for the report to be "processed properly" and to allow Parliament to handle the matter as it should.
Mantashe said that Ramaphosa should do "anything that can be done" before taking a decision to resign – this includes taking the report on review.
Ramaphosa may face impeachment, but has been leaning toward resignation, while some of his allies have been encouraging him to "fight" the report, according to News24.
Asked what the implications of Ramaphosa resigning would be, Mantashe said it would be "chaotic".
"The country would be leaderless. We would have an acting president … We (the ANC) have a conference in two weeks' time, and to me, that is chaos," he shared. Mantashe stressed that it is important to maintain stability.
Ramaphosa, the incumbent leader, will have his position contested at the ANC's elective conference, which will kick off in two weeks. "My view is let us go to the conference, elect a leader for the ANC and see what happens beyond that point," he said.
If Ramaphosa is elected for a second term, then he would continue to deal with the Phala Phala report as a "sitting" president, Mantashe said.
On Thursday, the rand and local equities crashed on rumours that Ramaphosa may be resigning.
Given that, the priority is to signal to society and the markets that there is stability in South Africa and that legal processes will unfold and there will be compliance with those processes, Mantashe said.
Members of Parliament are expected to vote on Tuesday on whether or not to adopt the report, News24 reported.