Intelligence resources hacked my email: Ramaphosa
Presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa has denied allegations - contained in leaked questions purportedly sent to the deputy president by the Sunday Independent newspaper - that he was a blesser for several young women he was allegedly in relationships with.
The questions‚ which were circulated via WhatsApp from Friday night‚ seemed to imply‚ among other things‚ that Ramaphosa was paying the women - apparently in return for sexual favours. The allegations were based on emails from Ramaphosa's private Gmail accounts. Ramaphosa doesn't deny that the accounts are his.
But Ramaphosa on Saturday responded to the specific allegations‚ denying all claims regarding the payments to the women.
“It has come to my attention‚ through questions that were sent to me by the editor of a Sunday newspaper‚ that a number of emails from my private email account have been illegally obtained and provided to at least one media outlet. From the nature and tone of the questions‚ it is clear that the intention of obtaining the emails and then providing them to the media was to discredit my person. I will not comment in public on private matters.
“I do feel compelled however to respond to deeply disturbing suggestions that I paid money to several young women with whom I was supposedly in relationships. There are 54 young students – both men and women – that my wife and I provide financial assistance to on a monthly basis and have done so for several years. It is unfortunate that evidence of these bank transfers have been used to make scandalous allegations against me and‚ worse‚ to make public the names of some of the people assisted.
“We find it disturbing that the privacy of these young women has been violated through the publication of their names and pictures on social media. It shows a callous disregard for the rights of the individual‚" he said in the statement.
Ramaphosa went further‚ lashing out at the allegations as going "beyond an attempt at a political smear”
“This latest episode… represents an escalation of a dirty war against those who are working to restore the values‚ principles and integrity of the African National Congress and society. Resembling in many ways the ‘stratkom’ techniques of the apartheid-era‚ we have seen in recent weeks a number of attempts at disinformation directed at me and people with whom I am associated. These activities need to be seen within a broader campaign that has targeted several political leaders‚ trade unionists‚ journalists and civil society activists‚" he said.
Ramaphosa added that those targeted were the ones who fought against alleged state capture. This campaign‚ he said‚ was well funded and politically backed.
“It is evident that there is a well-resourced‚ coordinated covert operation underway to prevent those responsible for wrongdoing from being held to account and for the integrity of our law enforcement agencies and other state institutions to be restored. This operation appears to have access to resources within intelligence circles with the capability to intercept communications and hack private emails.
“We now need to confront the likelihood that state agencies and resources are being abused to promote factional political agendas. We also need to confront the reality that those behind these agendas will go to any length to protect themselves and their interests. We need to ask who these people are. And on whose behalf they act‚" he said.
The presidential hopeful said he expected the targeted campaigns to intensify as he goes head-to-head against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - and a number of other potential candidates - for the ANC presidency at the party's national conference in December.
"It is imperative that members of the ANC and Alliance formations remain vigilant against deliberate efforts to sow confusion and disunity. South Africans from across the political spectrum need to resist all efforts to forestall the social and economic renewal of our country.
“We call on journalists in particular to exercise caution when receiving information and be circumspect in the manner in which they handle the information. It is a concern that questions sent to a person by a journalist were circulated publicly before the questions have even been responded to. This type of behaviour can no longer be referred to as journalism‚" he said.