South Africa: CR17 Funds Probe 'Unlawful', 'Out of Public Protector's Jurisdiction' - Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in his submissions to her that her office's investigation into funds pertaining to his ANC presidential campaign was "out of her jurisdiction".

Mkhwebane on Friday found that Ramaphosa "deliberately misled" Parliament when he responded to a question about a R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign from controversial company Bosasa in November last year.

She also said his campaign needed to be the subject of a money laundering investigation.

In a 51-page submission submitted to Mkhwebane, before her findings were made public this week, the president told her that all findings made against him were unfounded.

"The president does not accept that the Public Protector has jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign and to make any findings in relation to it," the submission read.

Ramaphosa's lawyers argued that his funding campaign was in his capacity as an ANC member and leader, not a public office bearer.

He also told her that it was unfair to find that he had "deliberately" lied to Parliament, standing firm that he had not known about the donation to his campaign when asked about it in Parliament by DA leader Mmusi Maimane in November last year.

Maimane had originally asked the question based on an affidavit he had received, saying Bosasa had given the money to Ramaphosa's son, Andile.

"The President's answer to Mr Maimane's question was thus entirely honest and correct, given the facts available to him. He said that his son Andile had an honest and arms-length relationship with Bosasa and that there was nothing untoward about its payments to him. There is no reason to doubt the truth and accuracy of this statement."

It would only later emerge that the money was not given to his son, but to his ANC campaign.

It was unrealistic and unfair on the president to suggest that he should have allowed Maimane's serious accusation to hang in the air unanswered and "prolong the political harm it caused" when there was no reason to do so, the submission said.

He also believed Maimane's question to be honest based on the facts presented to the DA leader.

As for the president needing to declare his donations from his campaign, it was not required by the Executive Ethics Code, his submission argued.

"The Code only requires members to disclose their own financial interests and those of their dependent children. The donations to the CR17 campaign belonged to the campaign and not the president."

Mkhwebane on Friday demanded that Ramaphosa publish all the donations he had received during his 2017 ANC presidential campaign, finding he had breached the executive ethics code by failing to disclose the donations, News24 reported.

She also recommended that his campaign be the subject of a money laundering investigation, saying large sums of money were transferred by various donors into a trust account named EFG2, which was the account that the CR17 campaign used to collect donations, News24 reported.

Ramaphosa on Friday acknowledged that he had received the report, and said the Public Protector had not properly considered his submissions.

"It is unfortunate, however, that from a cursory reading of the final report, it seems that the President's response to the Section 7(9) notice has not been given due consideration.

"Nonetheless, the President will study the Public Protector's report and make a decision on any further action."

The DA on Friday said it wanted an ad hoc committee in Parliament to look into the Ramaphosa Bosasa-matter, News24 reported.

Source: News24

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