Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Monday moved to rebuke claims that her investigation into money laundering allegations against President Cyril Ramaphosa was baseless and bizarre, and aimed at tarnishing his image.
On Monday, Bejani Chauke - Ramaphosa’s former ANC presidential campaign manager - fired the first broadside at Mkhwebane following a weekend report that the Public Protector was investigating allegations that at least R400million was laundered while the president was campaigning to lead the ruling party in 2017.
“Reports that have appeared in a Sunday newspaper suggesting that President Cyril Ramaphosa and the CR17 campaign were being investigated for money laundering are bizarre. The CR17 campaign was funded by a broad range of individuals from across South Africa,” he said.
“These funds were paid into accounts established for this purpose and were used to cover the costs of the campaign such as stipends, travel, communications and promotional material, meeting venues and accommodation. In the process, all legal and regulatory requirements were met,” Chauke said.
He said there was no basis whatsoever for even a suspicion of money laundering.
“It is significant that in addition to the entirely baseless claims of money laundering, the amounts referred to in media reports are wholly inaccurate.
“We are concerned that claims of this nature are being drip-fed into the public space with the clear intention to damage the reputation of the President and to create uncertainty,” Chauke said.
Mkhwebane said she was dumbfounded by the DA and the CR17 campaign managers’ claims that she was never asked to investigate allegations of money laundering in relation to the R500 000 donation made by African Global Operations (formerly Bosasa) to Ramaphosa’s campaign.
She also slammed the DA following a media report that its leader Mmusi Maimane had never asked her to investigate money laundering allegations against Ramaphosa.
Maimane on Monday set the record straight, saying he did ask for money laundering to be investigated in his initial complaint.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said Maimane asked for an investigation into the possibility of money laundering in his complaint lodged last year on November 23.
In a statement, Mkhwebane’s office further appears to corroborate a weekend report that revealed that the money laundering finding not only relates to the R500000 but to other transactions in three bank accounts linked to Ramaphosa.
While Mkhwebane did not confirm approaching the banks, she said the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had previously ruled in her favour in the matter of the Public Protector versus Mail & Guardian case, in the so-called “Oilgate” matter.
Mkhwebane, through Segalwe, said the SCA ruled that: “The Public Protector is not a passive adjudicator between citizens and the State, relying only upon evidence placed before her by the parties.
The court held further that the Public Protector should not be bound by or limited to the issues raised for consideration and determination by the parties but should investigate further and discover the truth and also inspire confidence that the truth has been discovered.”
Maimane said his party had at no stage distanced itself from an investigation of money laundering against Ramaphosa.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko could not be reached for comment.