South Africa: Citizens Allege Smear Campaign Against Ramaphosa

Polokwane — SOME South Africans believe President Cyril Ramaphosa is being unfairly targeted after his campaign for the presidency of the ruling party received financial backing.

They pointed out this was not peculiar to Ramaphosa's campaign as previous leaders of the party, the country as well as other politicians had at some point had received money to fund their campaigns.

In a snap survey by CAJ News Africa, several South African citizens accused the Public Protector (PP), Busi Mkhwebane, of involving herself in the factional battles within the African National Congress (ANC).

Mkhwebane has been involved in a legal spat with Ramaphosa over the millions of Rands reportedly paid to finance his so-called CR17 campaign, which culminated in him winning the party elections in Johannesburg in 2017.

The Public Protector concluded this was tantamount to money-laundering.

She ruled the president must disclose the source of funds.

Ramaphosa has taken Mkhwebane's report, in which it was found that he had violated the executive code of ethics, on urgent judicial review.

Critics and the opposition have piled the pressure on the president but some citizens claimed former presidents - Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma - received donations from wealthy individuals for their campaigns but were not forced to disclose their funding sources.

Among these are Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who eventually lost out to Ramaphosa for the top position.

Leaders of the opposition, including Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Julius Malema (Economic Freedom Fighters, 'EFF'), Andile Mngxitama (Black First Land First, 'BLF'), Bantu Holomisa (United Democratic Movement, 'UDM') and Mosiuoa Lekota (Congress of the People, 'COPE') are widely suspected to have had received funding before.

"Let's be objective about this donations issue. There is no campaign in the world that can run without funders. Even in America, which prides itself as the most functioning democracy," said Amukelani Shivambu in Polokwane.

"Many politicians get into politics to line their pockets but President Ramaphosa has enough money. He had an opportunity to make independent decisions that were the best for South Africa," Shivambu told CAJ News Africa in an interview.

Lerato Mahlangu of Pretoria said, "This phenomenon is not new to Ramaphosa alone but to all aspiring presidential candidates the world over."

Jimmy Zwane of Newcastle said business always donated to political parties and leaders with the hope of securing government contracts.

"Leaders and parties cannot choose who donates to their campaign and do not," Zwane argued.

Robert Coetzee from Cape Town, argued, "That's why it's called a campaign. Funds are for various exercises like printing T-shirts, holding rallies, accommodate supporters, attract voters and feed people."

Coetzee noted political campaigns were costly.

"Everyone contesting an election raises funds somehow. Ramaphosa should not be isolated because he is president.

"In every country, everyone gets money from somewhere. China donates for their preferred candidates in Africa. The United Kingdom does the same. America too," Coetzee said.

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