Public protector says Cyril Ramaphosa deliberately misled parliament

19 July 2019 - 11:19 By NOMAHLUBI JORDAAN
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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that President Cyril Ramaphosa misled parliament in his response to a question about a R500,000 donation from Bosasa for his presidential campaign in 2017.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane filed a complaint with Mkhwebane, asking her to investigate whether Ramaphosa deliberately misled parliament in 2018 when he initially said the money was paid to his son Andile as part of a legitimate business transaction.

Releasing her findings on Friday, Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa had misled parliament and acted in violation of the provisions of the executive ethics code.

"President Ramaphosa's statement on November 6 2018 on his reply to Mr Maimane's question ... was misleading as he also conceded in his correspondence to my office, and even in his subsequent letter to the speaker of the National Assembly on November 14 2018, where he sought to correct the incorrect information he had provided in the National Assembly."

Mkhwebane found that the president "deliberately" misled parliament as he should have allowed himself enough time to research a "well-informed" response.

"I therefore find that President Ramaphosa's conduct ... although ostensibly in good faith, to be inconsistent with his office as a member of cabinet and therefore in violation of section 96(1) of the constitution," read Mkhwebane's report.

According to Mkhwebane, Ramaphosa acted improperly and in violation of the provisions of the ethics code in that he exposed himself to a situation involving the risk of a conflict between his official duties and his private interests.

"... the campaign pledges towards the CR17 campaign were some form of sponsorship, and that they were direct financial sponsorship or assistance from non-party sources other than a family member or permanent companion, and were therefor benefits of a material nature to President Ramaphosa," Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa personally benefited from the CR17 campaign contributions.

"He was therefore duty-bound to declare such financial benefit accruing to him from the campaign pledges."

Mkhwebane's findings also revealed that there were three donations of R30m, R39m and R51m that came from a donor between March and September 2017, for the CR17 campaign.

These donations, she said, posed a risk of "some sort of state capture by those donating these moneys to the campaign".

Mkhwebane also found that an "improper" relationship existed between Ramaphosa, his family and Bosasa.

"The allegation that there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on one side and the company African Global Operations [Bosasa], on the other side, due to the nature of the R500,000 payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, thus raising suspicion of money laundering, has merit," said Mkhwebane.

She has referred prima facie evidence of money laundering uncovered during her investigation to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Mkhwebane also gave the speaker of the National Assembly 30 days to refer her finding that Ramaphosa has violated the code of ethical conduct to the joint committee on ethics and members' interests for consideration.

Mkhwebane has also directed the national police commissioner to investigate criminal conduct against former Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson for violation of section 11 (3) of the Public Protector Act by lying under oath when she interviewed him in her office.

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