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State capture report: Donations to Cyril Ramaphosa campaign troublesome, says Raymond Zondo

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo hands over the state capture report to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo hands over the state capture report to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane and Mashudu Sadike

Pretoria - Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa for accepting donations from Bosasa and other undisclosed donors despite his denials that he did not know.

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In Part 5 Volume 2 of his final report on state capture, Justice Zondo said it was of concern that Ramaphosa had known there was corruption emanating from individuals who donated money to the ANC and contestants in the party’s internal campaigns.

The report read in part: “Various ANC leaders have been implicated by witness testimony. There has also been substantial evidence that the party was a beneficiary of state capture, as it received payments from third parties alleged to have corruptly acquired government contracts. “In his own statements, Ramaphosa conceded the existence of corruption … and state capture, and the role of the ANC therein. He had conceded not only that there has been corruption, but that it is both continuing and pervasive, in government and in the party.”

Justice Zondo said acknowledging corruption within the party and promising to fight it was not something new.

“Similar statements have been made by ANC leaders since 1994. Ramaphosa noted that a lack of transparency in this regard increases the potential for corruption …

“The Political Party Funding Bill, however, was not formally introduced into Parliament until November 2017, 10 years later. President Ramaphosa passed the Political Party Funding Act in January 2019. The act did not take effect for another two years and came into operation on April 1, 2021,” he said.

Justice Zondo said the many admissions Ramaphosa made about the potential for corruption were not helping in the fight against corruption. “This is a clear admission that the role of money in contests for ANC leadership positions contributed to conditions in which corruption and state capture could take place.”

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The report also delved into Ramaphosa’s Bosasa donations that made headlines over the years. “It was put to President Ramaphosa that the unlawful activities of Bosasa had been the subject of media reports since at least 2009, and that

it was difficult to accept that vigilant ANC members would not have been aware that Bosasa was the recipient of government contracts under dubious circumstances.

“How, then, it may be asked, could the party continue to accept donations and benefits from Bosasa? It was put to President Ramaphosa that it was difficult to believe that the issue only became clear in hindsight, and that party leaders must have known at the time the donations were received. Ramaphosa agreed.

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“President Ramaphosa was asked to address a donation made by Bosasa to his campaign for the ANC presidency, the CR17 campaign… He testified that there was nothing ‘sinister’ or ‘underhand’ about the campaign,” he said.

Justice Zondo said the commission was told that the CR17 campaign raised about R300 million used for transport, venue hire, paraphernalia, etc, “but not for buying votes”. The Bosasa issue and that of donors Ramaphosa claimed to have not known was troublesome, he said.

Justice Zondo said he did not know the full facts about the CR17 donations “because they decided to keep it away from me. President Ramaphosa conceded

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that the ANC should have known about Bosasa’s unethical, unlawful activities and therefore should not have accepted donations. This surely would have applied to his own campaign as well.

“His repeated claim that he was in the dark about his campaign funding has potentially troublesome implications. It was his responsibility to ensure that such funds were solicited and used transparently. By removing himself from the management of funds, he failed to fulfil this responsibility. This is made clear by his campaign not only accepting but soliciting donations from individuals

suspected to be involved in corrupt activities. It is clear from his testimony that he did know about certain donors and that the firewall supposedly protecting him from feeling beholden to donors was not absolute,” Zondo said.

Political analyst and public administration lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga, Dr John Molepo, said he found it bizarre that Justice Zondo’s investigations revealed that Ramaphosa did not know who was funding his CR17 ANC campaign. “I find it wanting that Justice Zondo would say the president did not know who was funding him. There is no way he didn’t know. But the most important question is: what did those people want to gain? There is no free lunch … and he may have to pay back one day.”

Efforts to reach Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya were fruitless.

Pretoria News

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