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CAPE TOWN — With South Africa pursuing a socialist agenda similar to crisis-ridden, explosive Venezuela, perhaps a look at a country we’d do better to model ourselves on – Brazil – might shake the Zuptoid cage a bit. In Brazil, President Michel Temer has just had unprecedented corruption charges filed against him by – wait for it – the country’s chief prosecutor, following, inter-alia, a ‘sting’ tape made by the former CEO of a corporate giant. To go to trial, the charges need the backing of two-thirds of the lower house of Congress, a tall ask, but nevertheless encouraging. His former finance minister has just been jailed for 12 years for corruption and money laundering. The vast difference in the economies of Brazil and Venezuela, where a renegade policeman dropped hand grenades on a Supreme Court building yesterday and the unpopular strong-arm President Nicolás Maduro, put security forces on full alert, hardly need outlining. Brazil’s way better-performing economy and the holding of its leaders accountable are no coincidence. We have AfriForum, with former NPA prosecution bulldog, Gerrie Nel, straining at the leash should his former employers continue to ignore the avalanche of charges pending against Msholozi. A civil suit is possible should AfriForum legally shake loose a certificate from the NPA, outlining why Msholozi has not been charged. – Chris Bateman
By Simone Iglesias and Samy Adghirni
(Bloomberg) – Brazil’s President Michel Temer rejected the corruption charges filed against him by the country’s chief prosecutor as fiction, saying there was no evidence behind the accusations.
“They tried to tar me with a criminal act, but they won’t succeed because it did not happen,” he said at a nationally-televised press conference in the presidential palace on Tuesday afternoon. Temer is the first Brazilian president to face criminal charges while in office.
In his strongest defence to date, Temer said chief prosecutor Rodrigo Janot had acted unethically and dismissed his main accuser, Joesley Batista, the former CEO of the meat-packing giant JBS, as a “confessed thief”. The president said his detractors were attempting to paralyse the country by staggering the charges against him. “My will is to continue to work for Brazil, to generate growth and employment,” he said.
Janot subsequently issued a statement saying that the accusations against Temer were based on “ample evidence” and complied with the constitutional requirement that “no one is above the law.”
On Monday, Janot filed documents at the Supreme Court which accused the president of passive corruption, based on a secretly recorded conversation between Temer and Batista. For the case to go to trial, it requires the backing of two-thirds of the lower house of Congress. At present Temer appears to have enough legislative backing to block the process, although an increasingly vocal opposition could make inroads into Temer’s coalition. Also, Janot is still sifting through evidence and may press further charges in coming weeks.
BREAKING: Brazil's attorney general accuses President Michel Temer of corruption; Brazil's Congress to consider possible trial.
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 26, 2017
If the case goes to trial and the president is found guilty, he would be stripped of his mandate and could be jailed.
With the prospect of more charges from Janot in coming weeks, the Supreme Court weighing in on proceedings and Congress having to vote on whether to open a potentially lengthy trial, politics stands to overshadow the outlook for the government’s market-friendly reform agenda.
“Now it’s become even more difficult to vote anything,” said Luis Antonio Covatti, a lawmaker from the Progressive Party in Temer’s ruling coalition. “The government will use all its energy to survive.”
Indicative of growing tension in Congress, opposition legislators are stepping up their efforts to advance impeachment proceedings currently shelved in Congress, according to Deputy Alessandro Molon, from the Rede party. He described the president’s speech as an insult to the nation.
"I don't know how God put me here" says @MichelTemer in his rebuttal of corruption charges. The quote that launched a million memes…
— Bruce Douglas (@bruceecurb) June 27, 2017
Others are determined to block government legislation. “We are going to obstruct,” said Jose Guimaraes, from the Workers’ Party of impeached President Dilma Rousseff. “We’re not going to vote on anything until Temer leaves.”
How to Try a President in Brazil – a Step by Step Guide
By Simone Preissler Iglesias and Bruce Douglas
(Bloomberg) – Brazil’s chief prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, is investigating President Michel Temer for allegedly turning a blind eye to corruption and endorsing hush money based on a secret recording between the president and Joesley Batista, the owner of the meat-packing giant JBS. Temer denies the charges, but if indicted and found guilty, he could lose his job. Here is a step by step guide on how the process would work if indeed Janot presses charges against him.
Step One – Supreme Court
The prosecutor’s case is delivered to the Supreme Court which notifies the speaker of the lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia.
Step Two – House Speaker
Maia must formally notify Temer of the charges against him. From that moment on, the president’s lawyers have ten lower house sessions to present their defense. At the same time, Maia sends the paperwork to the Chamber’s Constitution and Justice Committee, which must then appoint a sponsor for the case.
Step Three – Constitution and Justice Committee, or CCJ
After Temer presents his defense, the committee has five sessions to discuss the charges. The sponsor then presents a final report with his recommendation on the case that the whole 66-member committee must vote on.
Step Four – Plenary
Regardless of the outcome of the committee hearing, the report goes to a vote in a plenary session of the lower house. The report can be read the very next day after the hearing or on a date of the speaker’s choosing.
At least two-thirds of lawmakers, or 342 legislators, need to agree for a trial to go ahead at the Supreme Court.
Each lawmaker must cast his or her vote aloud via microphone.
Step Five – Supreme Court
If approved by the lower house, a trial will take place at the Supreme Court. Temer would be obliged to stand down as president for 180 days while the court case goes ahead. If the trial lasts for longer than that, Temer would return to office while the case continues.
If convicted, Temer would be stripped of office and his political rights. He may also be imprisoned.
The house speaker would become president for 30 days before Congress votes for a new head of state via an indirect election.
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