President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the Zondo commission. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the Zondo commission. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

CR17 vote buying claims are devoid of any truth, Ramaphosa tells Zondo commission

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Johannesburg - There was nothing “sinister” about his ANC “CR17” presidential campaign, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Zondo commission on Thursday.

Ramaphosa faced questions regarding a R500 000 donation his campaign had received from facilities management company Bosasa.

The president attempted to distance himself from the administration of his campaign, saying his colleagues had decided not to involve him.

He said he could recall that a colleague had approached one of the Watson brothers for a personal donation to his campaign.

Ramaphosa said his colleague understood that the funds would come from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson but he now knew that it was from Bosasa.

He said he did not know what all the campaign money, estimates at around R300 million, was used for.

Ramaphosa emphasised that his campaign had not bought votes, as many of Ramaphosa detractors have claimed. He insisted that the allegations that his win in 2017 at the ANC’s elective conference was bought was “completely devoid of any truth”.

“The rumour that the money was used to buy votes, that is far from it. I said I would rather lose the race rather than have votes bought. It was used to transport people and hire venues. There is still a debt that still has to be paid," Ramaphosa said.

"There was nothing sinister about the CR17 campaign, there was nothing underhand. I would never allow that."

He defended the anonymous donors, saying that it was understandable that people would want their identity.

Although he was unclear what exactly the donations financed, he was told briefly that expenses were used to buy food, cover transport and hire venues, among other costs of the campaign.

The high court recently heard a case by the EFF in which the political party sought to convince the court to unseal financial documents linked to the CR17 campaign. Judgment has been reserved.

The matter had also been probed by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. She found Ramaphosa had lied to Parliament about the donation from Bosasa. She said the campaign has been used for money laundering.

Mkhwebane's report was set aside and a Constitutional Court appeal application was heard in November.

The hearing continues.

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Political Bureau

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