Implementation of remedial action in Public Protector’s Bosasa report suspended

 

 

The high court in Pretoria on Monday suspended the remedial action in the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s Bosasa report — as per agreement between all the parties.

Monday’s hearing was merely a formality.

From the outset, the public protector said that she would not be opposing the majority of Part A of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s court case — because he had asked the court to deal urgently with the case as a whole. Last week, the public protector said she would not oppose any of Part A.

Part A was the urgent interdict to suspend the remedial action directed in the report and Part B — where the real fight will happen — is about setting aside the report as a whole.

The report found that Ramaphosa had deliberately misled Parliament when he answered a question about a R500 000 donation from controversial Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson and breached the Executive Code of Ethics by not declaring donations made to his CR17 campaign ahead of the ANC’s elective congress at Nasrec in 2017.

The effect of Monday’s court order is to put on ice Mkhwebane’s remedial action which includes directions that the donations to Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign be disclosed, that his failure to disclose them be looked at by a parliamentary committee, and that the NPA investigate what Mkhwebane said was “prima facie evidence of money laundering” because the Bosasa donation had passed through “several intermediaries”.

However, going forward there may also be a clash over what documents may be publicly put before the court after Ramaphosa’s lawyers requested the court’s deputy judge president to seal portions of the court record. Ordinarily all documents filed in court papers are public documents, but a party may apply to court to keep some confidential.

In a letter to the Pretoria deputy judge president, Ramaphosa’s attorneys asked that documents and information related to the bank statements of bank accounts used by the CR17 campaign not be made available to the public “as these documents contain confidential information belonging to third parties”.

The request does not mean that they will be excluded from being considered by the court, only that they will not be available for public scrutiny.

In the letter, Ramaphosa’s attorneys also said they had reason to believe some of the documents relied on by the public protector were unlawfully obtained. If they were, they are protected from public disclosure under the Protection of Personal Information Act, said the letter from Ramaphosa’s attorneys, dated August 8. However, the public protector’s office is reported to have said that no law was broken in its investigation.

This weekend, the Sunday Independent reported that a group of politicians, campaign managers and strategists earned millions for their role in Ramaphosa’s successful ANC presidential campaign, with some having been on the CR17 payroll for the 12 months leading up to the party’s Nasrec conference.

According to the newspaper, the beneficiaries of campaign funds include ANC national executive committee member Enoch Godongwana, Ramaphosa’s adviser Marion Sparg, Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, deputy minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya, former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana, former Democratic Alliance politician Grant Pascoe, trade union federation Cosatu and the Western Cape ANC, among others.

The Sunday Independent report further claims that other prominent businessmen donated large sums to the CR17 campaign ahead of the conference.

These include billionaire businessman Nicky Oppenheimer’s family, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust board member Bobby Godsell, former Imperial Holdings chief executive Mark Lamberti, financial services company Sygnia Ltd board member Andre Crawford-Brunt, Colin Coleman, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs in southern Africa and Eskom board member Sifiso Dabengwa.

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Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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