Mischief managed: Cyril’s take on CR17 fund flows

Got the flag: Campaign money was spent on all sorts, from apparel to mass rallies. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Got the flag: Campaign money was spent on all sorts, from apparel to mass rallies. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

In his response to public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s investigation into CR17 donations, President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed the many moving parts of his campaign to win the ANC presidency.

“The campaign had broad political objectives, including the unity of the ANC and the restoration of its character,” the document, compiled by Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, reads.

“Through its communications and messaging, CR17 sought to engage ANC members and supporters in political debate and promote organisational development and unity in the ANC.”

The campaign got under way as early as September 2015.

Some of the president’s most trusted advisers were at the helm of the CR17 effort. The national campaign was run by Bejani Chauke and project manager Marion Sparg. Fundraising was overseen by a committee that included James Motlatsi, Donné Nicol, Sifiso Dabengwa and Crispian Olver.

The campaign also had a political committee, comprised of ANC national, provincial and regional executive committee members, Ramaphosa’s response to the public protector states.

Chauke, it says, “was the main channel of communication, keeping these participants abreast of the campaign’s progress”.

According to the response, Nicol, Motlatsi and Dabengwa each made donations to the campaign between November 2016 and September 2017.
The president also made a series of loans and donations to the campaign between September 2015 and July 2018 totalling R37.2-million.

The campaign made use of three entities to manage the donations made to the campaign and the money being paid to various service providers and individuals.

Campaign expenses included salaries, the costs associated with conducting rallies and mass meetings, travel, venues, food, accommodation, T-shirts, social media, pamphlets and security, the president’s response notes.

In her report, Mkhwebane found there was “merit” in the suspicion of money laundering, because payments passed through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign.

The trust account, established through law firm Edelstein Farber Grobler (EFG), could not be used on a regular basis to make payments to service providers and so the Ria Tenda Trust was established by CR17, Ramaphosa’s response explains.

The R500 000 donation by Bosasa, which became the impetus for Mkwhebane’s investigation, was made to the EFG trust account.

CR17 also appointed Linkd Environmental Services as a service provider “to take responsibility for the payment of CR17 salaries, related financial services, administrative assistance to CR17 and also to make payments to service providers”.

The leaked bank statement for the Linkd account contains the most transactions. Some of the most controversial payments were also made from this account. Ramaphosa said in his response to the public protector that he had no involvement with Linkd.

According to the document, after the establishment of the Ria Tenda Trust, no payments were made by EFG to Linkd.

In her findings, Mkhwebane alleged that more than R441-million was paid into the Linkd account.

But Ramaphosa disputed this in his response, giving the figure of R308.9-million for the period December 2016 to February 2019.

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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