Presidency welcomes ruling setting aside Mkhwebane’s report on CR17 donations

Image credit: Facebook/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.

The Presidency has welcomed Tuesday’s ruling by the high court in Pretoria that set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on donations to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign.

In a series of tweets, the Presidency said the court had reaffirmed Ramaphosa’s assertion he did not deliberately mislead Parliament when answering a question about the late Gavin Watson’s donation to the CR17 campaign.

The court also found that Mkhwebane had no jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign and that Ramaphosa was not obliged to declare donations to that campaign.

‘Commitment to honest governance’

The court further set aside Mkhwebane’s finding of “suspicion of money laundering” in the campaign because she based it on the wrong law and did not establish if the funds were the proceeds of crime.

“The Presidency welcomes the settlement of this matter and reaffirms its commitment to honest and effective governance,” the Presidency concluded.

Mkhwebane has not yet reacted to the ruling. Her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, told journalists that she would “rally” her legal team to study the ruling before making a decision on the way forward.

He said, “This was a very extensive judgement, so what would not be advisable for the Public Protector to do at this point in time is to offer a knee-jerk reaction.”

Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane: How it all started

The matter first arose in 2018 when Mmusi Maimane, who was then leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), asked Ramaphosa in Parliament to shed light on a R500,000 payment that ex-Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson had apparently made to Andile Ramaphosa, his son.

Ramaphosa said his son had signed a business contract with Bosasa and had received the money as part of that contract.

However, he later retracted his oral reply with a written statement to the Speaker of Parliament, saying the money in fact went into his CR17 campaign.

Maimane subsequently filed a complaint with Mkhwebane, asking her to investigate whether Ramaphosa had deliberately misled Parliament or not.

When Mkhwebane found against Ramaphosa in her report released in July 2019, he took the report on judicial review.

The matter became politically charged, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) joining court proceedings on the side of the Public Protector.

The revelations in Mkhwebane’s report also sparked controversy within the African National Congress (ANC). One of the party’s veterans, Tokyo Sexwale, claimed in a recent interview that money was used to “buy” the 2017 ANC conference that elected Ramaphosa.

More recently, ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member Lindiwe Sisulu said if Sexwale’s claim was true, “we must do something about it.”

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