Mkhwebane, Ramaphosa in spat over how she obtained CR17 campaign records
Johannesburg - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane may return to the courts to force President Cyril Ramaphosa to retract allegations that she obtained documents pertaining to his CR17 campaign illegally.
A date to hear Ramaphosa’s application to set aside the damning Bosasa report is yet to be set. However, Mkhwebane’s counsel on Wednesday wasted no time and provided the North Gauteng High Court with records including financial bank statements which formed part of Mkhwebane’s report on Ramaphosa’s R500 000 donation from Bosasa.
The report and records were handed to Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba in terms of Rule no 53 of the Uniformed Court Rules which require such processes to be followed if the public protector’s report is taken on judicial review.
Meanwhile, according to a report published by the Sunday Independent, donations of almost R1 billion were made to the CR17 campaign.
The paper listed multibillionaire Nicky Oppenheimer, Public Investment Corporation board member Maria Ramos and various other prominent persons as among those who donated to the campaign.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the public protector’s anger about obtaining information illegally initially emanated from a letter Ramaphosa’s attorneys wrote to Ledwaba.
In the letter, Ramaphosa’s counsel, Peter Harris, wrote: “We submit that the bank statements of EFFG2, Linked Environmental Services, Ria Tenda Trust and Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation accounts contain confidential information which must be protected.”
Segalwe said Mkhwebane was further enraged at various interviews conducted by Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko in which she repeated the claim that the records were obtained illegally.
Mkhwebane’s anger, according to Segalwe, grew more last week when the Presidency issued another statement alleging that “confidential banking information of the contributors to and recipients from the CR17 campaign had been leaked to the media”.
Segalwe said Mkhwebane was disheartened that Ramaphosa and his lawyers made the allegations without providing a “shred of evidence”.
“It appears that the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) wants to protect the identity of third parties who are the donors of his CR17 campaign. These third parties never approached the court and asked that their identities should not be made known.
“It is mind-boggling that the President had been effectively saying he did not know the identities of those who funded his campaign. Why does he now want their identities to be kept in the dark? It does not make sense why he wants to protect the identities of people he does not know,” Segalwe said.
He was adamant that Mkhwebane obtained the information legally.
“The public protector received information from FNB and other information from the Financial Intelligence Centre. The public protector has a memorandum of understanding with the FIC.”
He also said: “It is now up to the court to release the records to the public,” but declined to comment whether these records contained revelations published by the Sunday Independent.
Diko was not available for comment while Harris did not respond to telephone calls and an email sent to him.
Judge Ledwaba has today summoned both parties to his chambers to discuss the dispute raised by Ramaphosa.
This comes as Ramaphosa had asked Judge Ledwaba that certain information contained in the record of the public protector’s investigation into allegations against the president not be made public.
According to the Presidency, the request was pending a determination on whether the information was obtained lawfully and whether it was lawfully sourced in relation to the complaint under investigation.
Segalwe said the meeting would go ahead pending the availability of advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, Mkhwebane’s counsel.