Pretoria - The leaking of confidential banking information on President Cyril Ramaphosa's CR17 campaign for the African National Congress presidency amounts to a violation of the constitutionally enshrined right to privacy, the presidency said on Saturday.
"The presidency has been made aware that confidential banking information of the contributors to and recipients from the CR17 campaign has been leaked to the media," the presidency said in a statement.
"The information, supposedly held only by the Public Protector [Busisiwe Mkhwebane], includes bank statements of third parties which record private transactions and which are strictly confidential.The presidency notes with grave concern what amounts to a violation of the constitutionally enshrined right to privacy. This is all the more troubling as it seems clear that this information has been, from the first instance, obtained in an illegal manner.
"The legal representatives of President Cyril Ramaphosa have requested the court that certain information contained in the record of the public protector’s investigation into allegations against the president not be made public. This request is pending a determination on whether the information was obtained lawfully and whether it was lawfully sourced in relation to the complaint under investigation," the presidency said.
It should be noted that, should the request be granted, nothing prevented the court from deciding, once it had established the lawfulness of the source of documents and the appropriateness of it being included in the record, that some or all of the information should be made public.
The selective circulation of this banking information was clearly intended to cast aspersions on the president, and followed the recent report of the public protector in which there was a substantial focus on the funding of the CR17 campaign.
Neither the president nor the campaign had done anything wrong, ethically or legally. It was a common and accepted practice in South Africa and across the world for parties and candidates to raise funding from donors for campaigns.
From the outset, the CR17 campaign team and the candidate agreed that this should be a clean campaign that operated within the necessary legal prescripts and in line with the values and principles of their organisation.
It was agreed that the campaign would raise funds from private individuals who supported the effort to restore the integrity and cohesion of the ANC and to put South Africa back on a path of growth and transformation, with an explicit understanding that their contribution would earn them no special favours or undue advantage.
Funds were raised from a broad cross-section of South African society, sometimes with the help of supportive individuals who had access to various networks. More than a hundred individuals made contributions to the campaign according to their means. The donations were made on a confidential basis.
"As the president had indicated in both the response to the section 7(9) notice from the public protector as well as in his founding affidavit to the court, the funds were utilised to support a range of campaign activities including mobilisation, communication, research, security, administration, logistical support (travel and accommodation) as well as stipends and salaries. Funds were also provided to co-ordinators in provinces throughout South Africa. The coordinators used these funds to organise meetings and rallies, arrange transport, hire venues, provide accommodation, etc.
"The president assures the South African public that CR17 was run as a clean campaign and in the spirit of some of this country’s rich democratic traditions - namely accountability, honesty, and integrity," the presidency said.