Cyril Ramaphosa, Mmusi Maimane at loggerheads over CR17 donation at Q&A
Parliament - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday threw cold water on a suggestion that a separate commission of inquiry be established to probe allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud involving African Global Operations, the company formerly known as Bosasa.
During a quarterly question-and-answer session in the National Assembly, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane asked whether Ramaphosa would, given the plethora of allegations of corruption against Bosasa made during the Zondo inquiry into state capture, institute a "full-scale, independent inquiry" on Bosasa.
Ramaphosa, however, was not convinced.
"There is absolutely no reason to establish a new inquiry to investigate a matter that is already being investigated by a sitting commission of inquiry," the president said.
"As a country and as leaders, we should direct our efforts toward supporting the Zondo commission of inquiry and urging all with information relevant to its mandate to make themselves available to the commission."
The wrangling between Ramaphosa and the opposition over a R500 000 donation to his CR17 campaign to contest the presidency of the ruling party in December 17 dominated the sitting.
Ramaphosa sidestepped a demand from Maimane that he undertake to refund all the money that has flowed from Bosasa to the ANC in the past 15 years, as these funds were "the proceeds of corruption".
Maimane brandished a letter that has surfaced in the media, written in 2014 by then ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize to Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson to thank him for a R3m donation to the governing party, less than two months before the national and provincial elections in that year.
"Dear Mr Watson," Mkhize wrote on an official ANC letterhead, "This serves to acknowledge the receipt of R3 000 000.00 donation to the AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS."
The president accused Maimane of resorting to a gimmick, and invited Maimane to give him the letter and allow him time to reflect.
He said Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had in her report on the donation to his leadership campaign, said he should, when Maimane made a similar call at an earlier time, asked for a copy of the correspondence and for time to look into it.
"In this case I will follow her counsel, I want to say to the Honourable Maimane, please give me that letter and I will reflect on it."
He also sidestepped a call from the opposition to make public the sources of all donations to the CR17 campaign.
Ramaphosa said the new law on party political funding did not extend to internal campaigns but that it was perhaps time for Parliament to reflect as to whether its ambit should be extended to these as well.
He added an assurance that his campaign had been cleanly run and that it had not involved any abuse of public funds.
In a statement, Maimane said Ramaphosa now had 14 days to report back to Parliament on the letter from Mkhize.
The President requested time to consider and reflect upon the letter and its contents, and to report back to Parliament in due course. In the interests of transparency and accountability, the President must respond to Parliament in writing within 14 days as to:
- Whether as ANC Deputy President at the time, he was aware of the donation; and
- Whether he will instruct the ANC to pay back every cent of money received from Bosasa over the past 15 years.
African News Agency (ANA)