Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s credibility and reputation are on the line and could suffer irreparable damage if emails revealing that he had knowledge and interaction with donors of his CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency prove to be true, political analysts say.
Although the Presidency on Monday attempted to play down the allegations, in emails published at the weekend by News24, that Ramaphosa had been aware of some of the donations and fundraising despite having previously denied that he had been involved in the running of his campaign.
Last month Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane opened a Pandora’s Box when she released a report which found that Ramaphosa had deliberately “misled” Parliament over R500 000 donation from Bosasa.
At the time Ramaphosa said that the money was part of his son Andile’s contract with Bosasa for business conducted with the controversial company, a statement he later reneged on telling then Speaker Baleka Mbete that the donation had in fact been towards his ANC presidential campaign.
Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, from the University of the Western Cape, said that should the leaked emails prove true it would mean that he loses points in his battle with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
“The Public Protector said in her report that the president had deliberately misled parliament and if these emails turn out to be true, it would mean that the Public Protector was correct from the start,” Mngomezulu said.
He added that if the emails proved that would mean reputational damage and loss of credibility for Ramaphosa and it would also hurt those who have been fighting his corner and protecting him while it would help arm his opponents with solid evidence to use against him.
Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst, said that Ramaphosa is a president who is preoccupied and “busy running around with a fire extinguisher dealing with these fires which are a distraction” because while he was busy responding to these allegations it means he is not finding a solution for the crisis at Eskom.
“This means that he’s not finding time to mobilise support for any reforms at Eskom because he’s busy surviving so that there is where the problem is because the cost of this thing is in the form of a president who is constantly distracted,” Mathekga said.
In an interview on eNCA on Monday Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, said that the president was under no obligation to reveal who the donors of his campaign were and that he had committed no crime whilst also labeling the emails “smoke and mirrors”.
"We are quite perturbed by the narrative being built around these emails. Yes, we appreciate that South Africans have a legitimate right to want to know who funded the campaign, but there was no obligation on the part of the president or the campaign to release that particular information,” said Diko.
She said that there was no regulation for information around who Ramaphosa’s campaign donors were to be made and that donors who contributed had done so knowing that this would be kept confidential.
“At the core of it the president has not committed any crime and none of those donations are coming from anybody, to the best of our knowledge, who would have gotten that money illegally,” added Diko.