Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed he was “willing to fall on the sword” rather than reveal names of cadres of the ANC who used public funds and state resources during campaigns – to protect his party.
The Daily News is in possession of a recording of an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting where Ramaphosa appeared to be replying to NEC member Tony Yengeni and others in relation to allegations levelled against him about vote-buying during the CR17 campaign.
In the recording, Ramaphosa can be heard saying he would rather tell the public he had received money from some business people than let the public hear public money was used to advance certain campaigns.
“We also know as ANC cadres that in some cases state money has been used in some campaigns, we know that we will not talk about it, to the extent comrade Tony, where some comrades even said that, well, let’s investigate all campaigns and not just one.
“I even said to the officials that I think it’s enough to focus on one only CR17 and I even said because I don’t want the ANC to be dragged once again, in the mud when those assessments, investigations will reveal that a lot of public money was used, and I said, in this case, I am prepared to fall on the sword so that the CR17 campaign, yes, should be the only one that is looked at, and not the others because the image of the ANC is what I am most concerned about,” he appeared to say.
Ramaphosa justified his position by saying each one of them (the ANC NEC) knew money used in campaigns, to bus people around and for all manner of things, was often from state resources and public funds, and, he said, they could not deceive themselves when it came to that.
“One of the officials said as these people from the state security testify; one of the officials said soon they will be revealing about how money was used for some campaigns, and I said I would rather they say you got money from this business for CR than for the public to finally hear that their public money was used to advance certain campaigns,” he said.
Ramaphosa mentioned he had prepared a detailed account of the matter; however, the integrity committee of his party said they were not interested in the past but in how funding for election campaigns should be regulated in the future.
“The narrative that has been propagated is that the CR campaign amassed a lot of money, up to a billion rands and bought votes with that money and that is far from the truth.
“I guess in the end maybe what we did with the comrades who were running the campaign, where they made a mistake, was being too methodical and to be too professional; even as they sent money out for services like hiring a venue, they recorded everything. I will outline everything in a document so that what concerns comrade Tony, and indeed maybe many others, can be put out there in the open.”
Ramaphosa said quite a lot concerning the matter had been covered in court documents, including information on who funded the CR17 campaign.
He continued: “Rightly so some people who funded the CR17 campaign were members and non-members of the ANC, both black and white.”
Ramaphosa can also be heard in the recording stating that he had nothing to hide in relation to his CR17 campaign.
When the Daily News approached Ramaphosa and asked whether he was not complicit in the covering up of crime by declaring he was “willing to fall on the sword” and protecting those who stole public funds from the State Security Agency, and, by not revealing names or reporting the alleged crimes, his spokesperson Tyrone Seale said fighting crime was one of Ramaphosa’s priorities.
“One of the key priorities of the sixth administration led by President Cyril Ramaphosa is the fight against corruption in the public and private sectors and the building of a capable and ethical state, which includes reinforcing the capacity of state institutions to prevent, disrupt and prosecute corruption where it may rear its head,” Seale said.
After a week of attempts to get comments from the ANC and Yengeni, there had been no reply to the Daily News.
In March last year, a full bench of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria reviewed and set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report into the CR17 election campaign. The documents were sealed in 2019 after Ramaphosa had approached the high court, arguing that Mkhwebane had allegedly obtained the documents illegally.