Public Protector mum on IOL report on Ramaphosa-Bosasa loan

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane will not comment on a Sunday Independent (IOL) report claiming she found President Cyril Ramaphosa guilty of “inadvertently misleading” Parliament over a R500 000 Bosasa donation, her office tweeted on Sunday.

According to IOL, in a preliminary report submitted to Ramaphosa last Thursday — which the publication claims to have seen courtesy of one of the president’s confidants — Mkhwebane said the president violated the Constitution and the executive code of ethics.

The IOL story further claims that, last Thursday, Ramaphosa received a draft copy of a report into Mkhwebane’s probe into the donation to his election campaign for the presidency of the ANC.

In the tweet, Oupa Segalwe, the public protector’s spokesperson, said that the publication claims to have obtained a document leaked by a presidential confidant that is linked to an investigation she is carrying out following complaints against the president by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

“Adv. Mkhwebane and her office will not comment on the contents of any news report or leaked document that purports to be hers as that could potentially jeopardise her investigations and prejudice the subjects of the probes,” Segalwe said.

According to IOL, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said on Saturday: “The Presidency respects the office of the protector and remains committed to cooperating fully with the investigation. The Presidency would not wish to comment on any matter relating to the PP’s investigation.”

The statement did not give clarity on whether or not the document is legitimate.

In November last year, Ramaphosa backtracked on a response he gave before the National Assembly over the payment from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, allegedly for the benefit of his son, Andile in respect of a consultancy contract his son’s company had signed with Bosasa.

READ: Ramaphosa corrects Bosasa contract responses

The payment — made in October 2017 — Ramaphosa said at the time, was made without his knowledge.

This emerged in a letter Ramaphosa drafted to the speaker of the National Assembly dated November 14 2018, saying he had inadvertently provided incorrect information in his response.

News24 reported him as having said at the time: “I have been subsequently informed that the payment referred to…does not relate to that contract.

“I have been told that the payment to which the leader of the opposition referred was made on behalf of Mr Gavin Watson into a trust account that was used to raise funds for a campaign established to support my candidature for the presidency of the African National Congress.”

President Correction to Ora… by on Scribd

Maimane took aim at Ramaphosa, saying that the president did not declare the payment because it was dirty money and “looks suspiciously like all other ANC government corruption deals.”

“This goes beyond just campaign financing. This is a kind of insider trading – where a company ‘invests’ heavily in a candidate, knowing that it will pay off multiple times over if the candidate is successful through preferential treatment when it comes to tenders,” Maimane said at the time.

READ MORE: The Bosasa tally: R12-billion

EFF leader Julius Malema said that Ramaphosa thought he was going to spin the issue, but now it has backfired on him.

“The president must take full responsibility and admit that he lied to Parliament and he knows what happens to people who lie to Parliament,” Malema said.

“Now the president on his own accord came back to Parliament and said I misunderstood the question and therefore I seek to clarify that question.”

In March this year, Andile admitted he was paid R2-million by Bosasa.

“It was a severe oversight on our part,” Andile told News24 of a deal his company signed with the Bosasa group in December 2017. His company Blue Crane Capital signed an “advisory mandate” with Bosasa, resulting in it being receiving a monthly retainer fee of R150 000, which was later bumped up to R230 000. Blue Crane Capital was contracted to provide advice on more than 20 public and private sector contracts in Uganda and Kenya.

“It is clear now with the benefit of hindsight that our due diligence was insufficient in retrospect of my father’s role going into the Presidency,” the younger Ramaphosa said in a written response to questions from News24.

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Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.
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