South Africa: CR17 Campaign - No Wrongdoing in Funding Activities

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the CR17 campaign was a legitimate, forward-looking and necessary effort to promote the renewal of the governing party and broader society, undertaken under difficult conditions.

The President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

"In its funding and activities, there was no wrongdoing, no criminality and no abuse of public funds or resources.

"Those who contributed to the campaign - whether as organisers, volunteers, as members of the ANC, as service providers or donors, including myself - did so out of a genuine concern for the future of the country."

The President said following the release of the Public Protector's report into allegations against him, there has been much interest in the country about the funding and operations of the CR17 campaign.

He reiterated that the Public Protector's report is currently being taken on urgent judicial review and the courts will make a determination on the matter.

"Some people have used this opportunity - quite correctly in my view - to debate the issue of political funding. This is an important debate that needs to ensue in our country.

"I have also initiated discussion within the political party that I lead about the running of internal political leadership contests. I initiated that discussion in the last NEC [of the ANC] where I said this whole matter has brought to the fore a question we need to address as a political party.

"But others have a more sinister agenda, using leaked information selectively to undermine the positive changes that have been brought about in this country since the ANC's 54th National Conference."

President Ramaphosa said if there were members of the executive who were part of the campaign and were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members exercising their democratic and Constitutional right.

"In this regard, they owe no apology for what they did. What they did is a matter between themselves and their party; just as it is a matter between myself as President of the ANC and my party. It is for that reason that I have initiated that discussion within the ANC.

"As things currently stand, therefore, there are no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests," said the President.

He said the matter is now before the courts.

"It is a matter that is going to be dealt with by our courts. I want our courts to determine the extent to which declarations or disclosures may have been needed for internal party campaigning.

"... There [is no] provision for the disclosure of such information in the Executive Ethics Code or in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members' Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members."

The President said the Political Party Funding Act, which he signed into law earlier this year, does regulate public and private funding of political parties and requires disclosure of donations accepted.

"While this Act does not extend to the funding of internal party leadership contests, this is perhaps the appropriate time for this House to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be disclosed and regulated.

"Do we want internal party political contests from the governing party to the smallest party to be regulated so that there will be disclosure?"

The President suggested that this Parliament take responsibility for ensuring that the same standards of accountability and transparency are applied to all parties and leaders.

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