President Cyril Ramphosa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramphosa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

#PublicProtector: Ramaphosa breached code of ethics by not disclosing donation amount

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Jul 19, 2019

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Johannesburg - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that President Cyril Ramaphosa breached the executive code of conduct and deliberately misled Parliament when he failed to declare a R500 000 donation he received from African Global Operations (formerly Bosasa) boss Gavin Watson for his ANC presidential campaign in 2017.

Mkhwebane was speaking at her offices in Pretoria on Friday where she released the report on her investigations following a complaint laid by DA leader Mmusi Maimane in November last year.

Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa in March had submitted a supplementary statement to her office which detailed rules around executive members declaring their financial interest in the National Assembly.

In his response to Mkhwebane, Ramaphosa said the donation in question was not in return for any benefit by him in his official capacity or to influence his work. The donation, he said, was received to support an internal election.

Ramaphosa, in his response, further said while was aware of his duty to declare information in relation to his spouse and his children there was currently no obligation or law that made it mandatory for members of the National Assembly to declare their sources of funding when coming to elections and it would be unreasonable for him to disclose such donations.

But Mkhwebane disagreed, saying Ramaphosa's failure to disclosing the amount instituted a breach of the code of ethics.

She said the mere fact that he obtained assistance for his campaign while he was the country's deputy president, he was duty-bound to declare financial benefits.

She further added it could not be argued that mainly because money was deposited in the account of CR17 (his presidential campaign) that he can't take responsibility.

"I have proof that money was transferred into Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation account... Several dinners where he participated himself and addressed donors. In my view that is directly participating," Mkhwebane said.

She added that Ramaphosa had even received regular updates of the CR17 operations by donors from the campaign managers and that he went as far as being asked by the managers to speak to certain donors.

Mkhwebane said she had also interviewed Watson who revealed that he was approached by the head of the CR17 campaign James Motlatsi for a donation.

She said Watson informed her that he usually donated to the ANC as a party and not to individuals as it was the case where he now had to donate to CR17 and NDZ presidential campaigns

Watson had explained to her that he did not attend all dinners but one that was hosted by CR17.

Mkhwebane's further delved into whether the Ramaphosa family including the president's son Andile Ramphosa, who runs the business known as Blue Crane Capital, had any relationship with Watson.

Ramaphosa junior, earlier this year, admitted that he had received about R2 million from Bosasa for a business deal - an action he maintained that he regretted.

Bosasa has on numerous occasions come under the spotlight at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture after revelations of rampant corruption involving the business and politicians came to light.

On Friday Mkhwebane thanked Ramaphosa for the dignified manner in which he had conducted himself during her investigations, saying he had been exemplary.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane is expected to hold a press briefing in response to Mkhwebane's findings at noon.

Political Bureau

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