CR17 money also went to the ANC

ANC Siyanqoba rally. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

ANC Siyanqoba rally. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Money from the accounts used for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency was also given to the party for its annual January 8 celebration. The Mail & Guardian can reveal this after going through the campaign’s leaked bank statements.

The statements of Ria Tenda — the trust used to disburse some of the payments in the CR17 campaign — show that at least R1-million was paid from the trust for the ANC’s January 8 celebrations in East London last year. The celebrations were an important campaign moment for the ANC ahead of the national elections this year.

The Behaviour Change Agency, a marketing agency that was used in both the CR17 campaign and the ANC’s national elections campaign, also got a piece of the pie, with R530 000 being paid in seven tranches in 2018. The payments were made long after the conclusion of Ramaphosa’s campaign, but the company says they were for work done for the CR17 Nasrec campaign.

On January 5 2018, just weeks after Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC presidency, R1-million was transferred to an account labelled “ANC fundraising” from the Ria Tenda Trust account. The trust got its name from the Tshivenda translation of “siyavuma” — “we agree” — the tagline for the CR17 campaign.

Some ANC leaders, such as Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, have criticised the donations and payments into the CR17 campaign, saying: “Having read the Bank Statements legally or illegally I can onlu [only] come [to] one conclusion ‘Atshile amaqabame kaTambo’ during this looting period. Now the big question is where is SARS and NPA for money money laundering and tax avoidance.”

Keith Khoza, the administrative head in the office of the ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile, said the R1-million donation to the ANC would have been one of many pouring in as the ANC’s 106th anniversary celebrations approached.

“Normally the ANC, when we receive donations, we do not disclose where we get the money from,” Khoza told the M&G. “If the money has nothing to do with corruption, we do not disclose where the money comes from.

“So from the point of view of the donation that was received, it was a donation that was made towards January 8 2018. It would have been a period when the ANC was raising funds. Many individuals and companies would have donated.”

The donations have stirred up a hornet’s nest ever since the release in July of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report about a R500 000 donation from Bosasa to the CR17 campaign.

In her report, Mkhwebane said that there was a series of trusts and complex transactions to disguise the “laundering” of more than R400-million donated to the CR17 campaign. Ramaphosa has disputed the findings and has since taken Mkhwebane’s report on review.

Mashatile told the M&G in May that the new Political Party Funding Act — signed into law in January — had affected the ANC’s ability to raise funds. At the time, ANC leaders from three provinces complained about a lack of resources such as transport and T-shirts.

The key messaging of the CR17 campaign — which saw Ramaphosa narrowly win the ANC presidency — was the rebuilding of a united ANC. In his response to Mkhwebane’s investigation, the president said the campaign’s overall theme “was one of renewal and, in many ways, it set the scene and was the precursor for the New Dawn”.

Similar messaging was used for the ANC’s national election campaign.

In a description on its website about its part in Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC leadership, Behaviour Change Agency says it played a key role in pushing the brand online. The leaked bank statements show that the CR17 campaign made a total of 20 payments, amounting to R3.6-million, to the company for this work.

The same company also developed the MyANC mobile app, launched as part of the ANC’s national election campaign. Behaviour Change Agency was contracted by marketing agency Avatar to develop the app.

Pat Govender, the company’s founder, said: “The last invoice was submitted in October, for work done on final close-out reports, software subscriptions, et cetera. We were also still owed monies for work done during the campaign in 2017, which were eventually billed in the final invoice in October 2018. Yes, we did build the MyANC App during the elections, but we were contracted by Avatar Agency, who were appointed as the advertising agency by the ANC for the elections campaign.”

Avatar’s group chief executive, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, told the M&G that the agency had no involvement in the CR17 campaign.

The leaked CR17 bank statements also show that Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula each received R50 000 from a campaign account on the same day in January 2019.

At the time of the payment, Kodwa was a spokesperson for the ANC. He was appointed to the president’s executive after the party won the national elections. Mbalula was ANC’s elections organiser at the time of the payment.

In an interview with PowerFM on Monday, Kodwa confirmed that he received the R50 000 payment but said it had nothing to do with the CR17 campaign.

“The assumption is that it had to do with the election of 2017. It had nothing to do with 2017 ... It is irrelevant to the conference of 2017,” he said. “In 2019 that wouldn’t have anything to do [with the conference], it would have to do [with me] as an employee of the African National Congress. Remember I was working at Luthuli House at that time. It has everything to do with that.”

Mbalula took to Twitter, also denying that the payment had anything to do with the 2017 CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency. He repeated this when asked questions by the M&G. Kodwa did not respond to phone calls and SMSes requesting comment.

A source with intimate knowledge of Mbalula’s payment said it was made as part of his salary. “The truth is that during the ANC campaigns the organisation did not have much money and could not fully pay comrades. It is not a secret that people like Mbalula’s salaries had to be topped up and Cyril did that as a gesture of goodwill.”

Khusela Diko, the spokesperson for the presidency, did not respond to the M&G’s questions about whether CR17 funds were channelled to the ANC. But Ramaphosa has consistently said he was kept at arms-length from the fundraising in the campaign.

Earlier this month, the Sunday Independent revealed the identities of the donors who put millions of rands into the CR17 campaign.

Thanduxolo Jika

Thanduxolo Jika

Thanduxolo Jika is an investigative Journalist and Co-Author of We are going to kill each other today:The Marikana Story. The Messiah of Abantu.
  • Read more from Thanduxolo Jika
  • Sarah Smit

    Sarah Smit

    Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
  • Read more from Sarah Smit
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