Ramaphosa calls the public protector’s affidavit “disingenuous” and “evasive”

 

 

“Disingenuous in some parts and evasive in others,” is how President Cyril Ramaphosa describes the public protector’s affidavit filed in his court challenge to her investigation into his CR17 campaign.

Ramaphosa wants the court to set aside the report into a complaint by former Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, that Ramaphosa had misled Parliament when he answered a parliamentary question about a R500 000 donation from Bosasa’s Gavin Watson to his CR17 campaign.

In her report, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa had misled Parliament and went even further, detailing transfers of millions of rands between the CR17 campaign’s various bank accounts. She said there was “merit” in a suspicion of money laundering and that “such a scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these moneys to the campaign”.

Ramaphosa immediately took the report to court on review.

The president filed his replying affidavit on Tuesday — in which he responds to claims by Mkhwebane in her answering affidavit — including that he had been obfuscating and had made “technical arguments”.


Ramaphosa said: “One of its [Mkhwebane’s answering affidavit] recurring themes is a complaint about me raising technical points instead of dealing with the real issues. I understand the technical points referred to by the public protector to be the law. I do not understand the complaint, given that the public protector has to uphold the rule of law.”

Ramaphosa stuck to his guns on his claim that Mkhwebane did not have jurisdiction to extend her investigation into the CR17 campaign as the campaign related to party funding and not his “conduct in state affairs or the public administration in any sphere of government”.

“It is clear that the public protector had no jurisdiction, and she cannot explain why she thought she could extend the scope of her investigation to include matters over which she had no jurisdiction,” he said.

He said he continued to question Mkhwebane’s motives — “given her unlawful expansion of the scope of her investigation and her over-eagerness to reveal bank statements and information detailing donations received by the CR17 campaign”.

Mkhwebane and the Economic Freedom Fighters, who have joined the case, had both been against the sealing of the bank statements and other documents which are part of the court record but have been kept away from public view at the request of the president.

Mkhwebane also got the Executive Ethics Code wrong, Ramaphosa said.

In her report, Mkhwebane quotes the code as prohibiting both the deliberate and inadvertent misleading of Parliament. But the code actually only refers to the “willful” misleading of Parliament. In her answering affidavit, Mkhwebane admitted that this was an error in her report but said it was not material — because her finding was that Ramaphosa had deliberately misled Parliament.

However, Ramaphosa takes issue with this, saying her finding “refers to both ‘inadvertent’ and ‘deliberate’ misleading of the National Assembly. My conduct could not have been deliberate and inadvertent at the same time,” said the president.

“To reach the conclusion that the ‘error’ does not matter, because the Public Protector ‘primarily’ found me guilty of deliberately misleading the national assembly, one would have to read selected exce[r]pts identified by the Public Protector instead of reading the Report as a whole,” he said.

It was “disingenuous” to say this was just an “error” because she relied on the same incorrect version of the code in her report into Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Ramaphosa added.

Mkhwebane was also “all over the place” in the report and answering affidavit about whether Ramaphosa has — according to her — breached the Executive Ethics Code (which applies to the executive) or the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members (which applies to members of Parliament), Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa further insisted that Mkhwebane should have given him an opportunity to address her on her proposed remedial action and on the “illegally obtained” emails — the emails that Mkhwebane attached to court papers that suggested he knew more about the fundraising efforts of the CR17 team then he had made out. In any event, the emails were “superfluous” to the original complaints made. “Their release by the Public Protector could only have been meant to embarrass me, rather than to serve any legitimate Public Protector purpose,” he said.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

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

Related stories

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

Ramaphosa: We want investment pledges to translate into new jobs

To move out of South Africa’s economic funk, Ramaphosa is prioritising the materialisation of pledges made at the previous investment conferences.

Government gets $2bn more in pledges towards infrastructure development

The New Development Bank pledges billions of dollars towards infrastructure development in South Africa. Implementing infrastructure development is one of the measures the country is counting on to recover from the economic effects of Covid-19

African leaders must continue to press for talks: Ethiopia is too big to fail

The conflict in Ethiopia could spill over into the entire Horn of Africa region. AU and regional leaders need to step up their efforts to de-escalate the situation
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…