South Africa: SA President Challenges Public Protector Over Election Donation Scandal

Left: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Right: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa challenged Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her allegations that he violated the Executive Ethics Code.

Mkhwebane's report to this effect "contains numerous factual inaccuracies of a material nature," Ramaphosa said on Sunday. On Friday, Mkhwebane released the report about her investigation into a controversial donation worth 500,000 rand (about 36,000 U.S. dollars) to the president's election campaign fund.

The donation was made by Bosasa company, also known as African Global Operations, to Ramaphosa's campaign team in 2017 to fund his African National Congress (ANC) presidential campaign. Ramaphosa was deputy president then.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament in November last year when he said in the House that he did not know the details of the donation his campaign office received.

Ramaphosa said at that time that the donation was in fact payment for services to his son's company. But in the report, Mkhwebane rejected Ramaphosa's claim, saying the president is duty-bound to declare funds deposited into his campaign account because he personally benefitted from the Bosasa donation.

Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa ought to have declared all the funds received for his campaign as some of the money collected through Ramaphosa's campaign account was transferred to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation account.

Ramaphosa's explanation that he did not know about the donors and donations "is false," Mkhwebane said.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Ramaphosa said Mkhwebane's findings "are wrong in law, are irrational and, in some instances, exceed the scope of the powers of the Public Protector." Her report "is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed".

Furthermore, the president said, Mkhwebane failed to provide him with an opportunity to comment on proposed remedial action, thus violating provisions of the Public Protector Act, the Constitution and principles of common law.

"Given these deficiencies, and consistent with the constitutional architecture, it is appropriate that the courts make a final and impartial determination on this matter.

"I have therefore decided to seek an urgent judicial review of the Public Protector's report, its findings and remedial action," the president said.

He said he has instructed his legal representatives to prepare an application to this effect as a matter of urgency. -Xinhua

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