Johannesburg - The ball is now in Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s court to decide on the controversial R500 000 donation President Cyril Ramaphosa received from embattled facilities management company Bosasa.
On Thursday, Ramaphosa met the deadline for responding to allegations he may have misled Parliament on the Bosasa matter. Earlier this month, our sister newspaper, The Sunday Independent, reported that Mkhwebane had found Ramaphosa guilty of “inadvertently misleading” Parliament and failing to declare a R500 000 donation from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson for his ANC presidential campaign in 2017.
Ramaphosa furnished Mkhwebane with his responses prior to leaving for a G20 Summit in Japan, and ahead of his deadline - which was today.
This was while speculation grew that Mkhwebane’s probe into Ramaphosa was not only related to a complaint lodged by DA leader Mmusi Maimane, in which he asked the protector to investigate a donation of R500 000 given to Ramaphosa for his ANC presidential campaign ahead of the party’s elective conference at Nasrec in 2017.
Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said, without giving details, only that “the president’s submission contains various confirmatory affidavits and supporting documents which, in his view, would enable this matter to be brought to its conclusion as speedily as possible”.
“The president has reaffirmed his respect for the office of the public protector and his commitment to offer his full co-operation,” Diko said.
She also said that Ramaphosa met Mkhwebane’s deadline on her notice with respect to an investigation into alleged violations of the Executive Ethics Code. Diko said Ramaphosa submitted his responses on Thursday, after he was granted two extensions.
Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has threatened to take legal action against SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila for allegedly labelling her a “hired gun of the fightback agenda” in the ANC.
Mapaila was addressing the national policy conference of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), when he allegedly made those comments, accusing Mkhwebane of being used by Ramaphosa’s opponents in her investigation against the head of state.
In reaction, her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said Mkhwebane took serious exception to Mapaila’s “vitriol” and challenged him to produce evidence to support his claims or retract the statement and apologise, failing which she would “consider taking legal steps against him”.
“It must be remembered that it was Mapaila’s party, the SACP, which, following the release of the Nkandla report in 2014, vilified the then public protector, saying she had abused her power and played into an “anti-democratic regime-change agenda that seeks to portray the entirety of government as corrupt”, said Segalwe.
He said the SACP also questioned the timing of the release of the report, and had gone as far as labelling the whole Nkandla saga “white people’s lies”.
“His latest attacks on the office, seen in the context of his party’s deep-seated contempt for the public protector’s office, dating back to the Nkandla days, are premised on the tired and unproven narrative that advocate Mkhwebane is involved in governing party factional battles,” Segalwe said.
However, SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo has reiterated its call for Parliament to hold an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.