'Mkhwebane intended to find Ramaphosa guilty in R500K Bosasa donation probe'
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa did not benefit from the hundreds of millions paid to his CR17 ANC presidential campaign, his lawyers told the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, arguing on Ramaphosa’s behalf, said Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane recklessly intended to find the president guilty during her investigation into the R500000 donation to his son Andile Ramaphosa.
He said Mkhwebane made findings in conflict with the evidence she had in her possession.
“She simply got the facts wrong,” argued Ngcukaitobi.
According to Ngcukaitobi, Mkhwebane was fundamentally mistaken and had no jurisdiction to probe CR17 funds and campaign donations.
Ngcukaitobi told the full bench of the high court - Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo, judges Keoagile Matojane and Raylene Keightley - that Mkhwebane’s investigation was outside her constitutional and legislative authority and that she fundamentally misunderstood the facts and came up with inaccurate findings.
Last year, Ramaphosa successfully interdicted the implementation of Mkhwebane’s remedial action that Parliament take disciplinary action against him and has now approached the high court to have the report reviewed and set aside.
“There is not a cent that accrued to Ramaphosa,” Ngcukaitobi insisted, adding that Ramaphosa was not a beneficiary of donations received by his campaign.
He said Ramaphosa even donated R37.2million of his own money to the campaign and that a deliberate decision was taken to keep him at arm’s length of CR17 funds.
According to Ngcukaitobi, the millions collected were spent on salaries, rallies, events, meetings, pre-election conferences, public relations, T-shirts, travel and accommodation.
He said Mkhwebane ignored the facts presented to her by Ramaphosa and that there is no official responsibility involved in internal political party campaigns.
The CR17 campaign, Ngcukaitobi added, was characterised by transparency and internal accountability and its fund-raising committee, which included former National Union of Mineworkers president James Motlatsi and businessman and former MTN boss Sifiso Dabengwa, did not feature Ramaphosa.
Ngcukaitobi said Mkhwebane should be probing state affairs and public administration and not donations made in the course of contesting power in a private political party election.
“She has no generic power to investigate all and sundry under the sun,” he told the court.
In any case, continued Ngcukaitobi, the complaints by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and an anonymous complainant, were not related to CR17 funds.
“She went on a frolic of her own to subpoena bank records of the CR17 campaign. She does not have powers to investigate all and sundry,” Ngcukaitobi said.
Mkhwebane’s advocate Muzi Sikhakhane said his client had jurisdiction to investigate the funding of Ramaphosa’s successful campaign to be ANC president in 2017.
He said a proper interpretation of state affairs meant that the public protector had jurisdiction to probe the funding of Ramaphosa’s campaign.
Sikhakhane said grounds raised in Ramaphosa’s defence kept shifting and that he had no consistent argument.
He added that it was narrow, self-serving and incorrect that the CR17 campaign had nothing to do with the State.
“This court should find that she (Mkhwebane) was well within her powers to investigate CR17,” Sikhakhane said.