South Africa

Public protector’s Bosasa findings are nonsensical – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his reply to the debate on his State of the Nation address. PHOTO: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his reply to the debate on his State of the Nation address. PHOTO: GCIS

The president added Mkhwebane had no jurisdiction for some of her findings.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed disappointment with public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane for choosing to entirely disregard his response to her finding that he misled parliament over a donation to his election campaign from Bosasa. On Friday, Mkhwebane released her report finding against him, despite a  51-page submission Ramaphosa made to the public protector’s office which noted that the findings made against him were “wholly unfounded”.

Mkhwebane had originally found that Ramaphosa deliberately mislead the National assembly on November 6 last year when he claimed to know nothing about a donation to his campaign from Bosasa. The public protector explained she believed him to be in breach of the Executive Ethics Code due to the fact that he “should have allowed himself sufficient time to research a well-informed response”.

In his response, Ramaphosa said that the finding was nonsensical as he did not know about the donation, and therefore could not have possibly known that he needed to research a well-informed response.

“It is in any event quite unrealistic and unfair on the president to suggest that he should have allowed Mr. Maimane’s serious accusation to hang in the air unanswered and prolong the political harm it caused when there was absolutely no reason to do so,” the president said in his response.

While making her ruling Mkhwebane stated that the president’s conduct was “ostensibly in good faith” a fact latched onto by Ramaphosa in his response when he said, that the public protector’s censure of the president’s conduct in parliament in good faith would be a breach of the constitution and unlawful.

Ramaphosa was also scathing about the public protector’s claims that he had violated the Executive Ethics Code by exposing himself to a conflict between his official responsibilities and his private interests, using his position to enrich himself and his son through his relationship with Bosasa. His lawyers argued that the president had no relationship with Bosasa and did not know about the donation and as such, no conflict can exist.

Mkhwebane claimed that she had evidence that some of the money collected through Ramaphosa’s CR17 election campaign was transferred to other accounts which would benefit the president in his personal capacity, though Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued she had absolutely no jurisdiction to even examine the CR17 accounts, and that because the CR17 accounts were a separate entity to himself, they had nothing to do with him in his personal capacity.

“The donations were made to CR17 and not to him. It owned the money and he did not. He ever received any of it. The money was spent on the campaign for his election, but that was not only his cause,” his lawyers argued.

Mkhwebane said she had considered the responses but decided to reject them, a fact that lead the president to say he would “apply his mind and decide on a way forward.” It is likely the findings will be taken to judicial review.

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