Student leaders squabble over CR17 funds

By KARABO NGOEPE, PIET RAMPEDI AND MZILIKAZI WA AFRIKA Time of article published Sep 29, 2019

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Johannesburg - A student leader who was suspended for benefiting from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC leadership campaign funds has accused his organisation of “misrepresenting facts” in a bid to discredit and get rid of him.

South African Students Congress (Sasco) president Avela Mjajubana has approached the Johannesburg High Court for relief after his organisation’s national executive committee (NEC) sidelined him last month following revelations that he had received almost R1 million from the CR17 funds.

This is the first legal challenge linked to the CR17 campaign funds after a public fallout among Ramaphosa supporters who accused his campaign managers, especially Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who was then Limpopo CR17 campaign co-ordinator, of having used them to secure millions of rands and ministerial positions.

Independent Media revealed last month that prominent businessmen and companies donated R1 billion to Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign fund, which was used allegedly to buy votes and sway branch leaders to support him.

The beneficiaries included campaign managers such as ANC NEC member Enoch Godongwana, Ntshavheni, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya and Mjajubana, who were paid between R900 000 and R5m each for their roles in delivering the governing party’s presidency.

The CR17 funds are a subject of a court battle between the president and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after she found Ramaphosa misled Parliament about a donation from deceased Bosasa boss Gavin Watson. Ramaphosa went to court to challenge Mkhwebane’s findings and in his court papers questioned how the public protector had obtained the banking records for his ANC elections campaign.

The Financial Intelligence Centre has confirmed that it supplied Mkhwebane with the bank records.

Following the exposé, Sasco convened an urgent NEC meeting on August 9 and decided to sideline Mjajubana, accusing him of dividing and sidetracking Sasco from its mandate by accepting what they called Ramaphosa’s “patronage network”.

At the time of Mjajubana’s suspension, some Sasco leaders accused ANC leaders of corrupting students and teaching them the “politics of patronage”.

In his founding affidavit filed in a bid to get his position back, Mjajubana accused acting secretary-general Moipone Mhlongo, his main rival, of having convened an irregular meeting where it was decided to put him on ice.

He argued that as per the constitution of the organisation, an NEC meeting can only be convened by the secretary-general in consultation with the president, in this case himself, something he said was not done.

Mjajubana was seeking an interdict to stop Mhlongo from acting in her position within Sasco or communicating on behalf of the organisation.

He also wanted nine other Sasco leaders cited as respondents to be interdicted from implementing decisions that were taken at the August 9 meeting.

“A meeting is requested by the national working committee (NWC) or is requested by at least two-thirds majority of the NEC members in writing to the secretary-general or the president, who in consultation with the NWC members, shall convene a special NEC meeting on 72 hours’ notice,” Mjajubana said in court papers.

He claimed that Mhlongo had used underhanded tactics to have him suspended and removed from his position.

In addition, Mjajubana said he received communication on August 5 that Mhlongo had sent him a letter four days earlier to which he failed to respond.

“As a result of having exhausted the consultative requirement and my failure to respond to her letter dated August 1, 2019, the first respondent (Mhlongo) had proceeded to schedule a national working committee meeting from 8 to 10 August 2019 at the first applicant’s offices,” he said.

Insisting that the NWC meeting was unconstitutional, Mjajubana rejected Mhlongo’s argument contained in her letter that she had “exhausted the consultative requirement” for scheduling such a gathering.

Sunday Independent

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