ANC integrity commission not impressed with 'elusive' Ramaphosa

23 December 2020 - 11:45
By andisiwe makinana AND Andisiwe Makinana
TheANC's integrity commission said it had made several requests to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: GCIS TheANC's integrity commission said it had made several requests to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.

The ANC's integrity commission (IC) has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa for seemingly giving it the runaround for 18 months instead of answering questions about the controversial CR17 campaign funds.

In a report dated December 21, chairperson George Mashamba expressed the commission's disappointment with Ramaphosa's reluctance to discuss the CR17 campaign funds until the courts had finalised the matter.

“To insist the legal process must conclude to avoid appearing before the IC on the basis that matters are before the courts distorts the role of the IC, undermines the work of the IC and presents an unnecessary delay to the work of the IC,” read the report.

The commission was also not impressed with Ramaphosa trying to have his legal adviser present at their meeting, which is not allowed by the commission's terms of reference.

Mashamba wrote that the IC first requested to meet Ramaphosa in 2018 when the issue of Bosasa and the CR17 campaign funds first arose.

“The IC identified this as a very important and sensitive issue for the organisation, and anticipated that this was going to do damage to the reputation and good standing of the ANC,” he said.

“The use of such allegedly huge sums of money for individual leadership campaigns was a departure from the internal democratic procedures of the organisation and was having a negative impact on the organisation.

“It was therefore a great disappointment to the IC when the president explained to the chairperson of the commission that since this was a legal matter, he did not feel it was right to discuss the CR17 campaign funds until the legal matter was finalised.”

Mashamba revealed that the commission pursued the matter and made several requests, verbally and in writing, to meet Ramaphosa over an 18-month period.

“It did not sit well with the IC that the president especially, but also the [top six] officials, continually referred publicly to the importance of the IC and the work being done, but in reality there was little to no interaction.”

According to the report, Ramaphosa finally engaged with the commission via a video conference on November 19, at the IC's request, and with the main purpose of soliciting and exchanging views on funding for campaigns for individuals seeking to hold office in the ANC.

The meeting wanted to focus on the principle of the use of money in individual leadership campaigns within the organisation going forward, said Mashamba.

“However, with regard to the buying of votes subsequent to the 2017 conference, the IC strongly recommends that if any comrade has irrefutable evidence of this, it must be brought to the notice of the disciplinary committee as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Mashamba said the issue of the use of money in buying votes, especially in relation to leadership positions, kept arising in the media and public arena.

“It is obvious to the commission that this issue is becoming increasingly divisive and is being used as an instrument to further factional divisions at all levels of the organisation. This is damaging the reputation of the organisation,” he wrote.

According to Mashamba, Ramaphosa accepted the commission's approach and offered to send a 69-page presentation he had prepared, which he had not done.

The report quotes Ramaphosa as having told the commission that the ANC needed to accept that campaigning was part of the modern way in which political parties operate, but it has to be regulated.

He allegedly explained that contestation became an issue in the organisation after the dawn of democracy. Before its unbanning, people were asked to make themselves available for election but after 1994, the introduction of money was linked to access to resources and to government positions, among other things.

Ramaphosa said many conferences had taken resolutions on this, yet the practice had  become one in which the use of money had underpinned leadership contests.

One measure to put an end to factionalism would be to have a new approach to leadership contestation, he suggested, adding that without clear guidelines, the leadership contests would continue in the shadows, encouraging factionalism.

Ramaphosa also called on the ANC to clearly identify permissible forms of campaigning and those that were not, with the intention to ensure legitimacy, transparency and accountability.

According to the report, the commission maintained a view that raising and using money for individual leadership campaigns at all levels of the organisation should be strictly prohibited.

The matter of the CR17 campaign funds is before the Constitutional Court after public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigated the movement of money raised for Ramaphosa's campaign between different accounts. She found there was merit in suspicion about money laundering.

The high court set aside her report in its entirety, and sternly rebuked her for some of her findings. The public protector, supported by the EFF, then applied to the ConCourt to overturn the high court order.