He says, she says … but what is the painful truth?

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Cyril Ramaphosa and Busisiwe Mkhwebane face a ‘credibility crisis’ after the release yesterday of the public protector’s report on the president, says a political analyst.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings that President Cyril Ramaphosa misled parliament in his response to a question about a R500,000 donation from Bosasa for his presidential campaign in 2017 could have serious consequences, with opposition parties already swinging into action to capitalise on the report.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa violated the executive ethics code, in that he exposed himself to a situation involving a risk of conflict between himself and his son through businesses owned by Bosasa.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said if the allegations against Ramaphosa stuck, he would face a serious battle to regain credibility.

“We are facing what you would call a credibility crisis, because the public protector herself is facing questions over her credibility. But this report definitely gives ammunition to the broader non-Ramaphosa faction to use against him,” said Silke.

He said the public protector had succeeded in discrediting the president, but expected the matter to go for a legal review.

Shortly after Mkhwebane released her report, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane chimed in, saying: “What is clear is that this matter runs much deeper than initially thought.

“The public protector has only scratched the surface as it pertains to President Ramaphosa, Bosasa and his son Andile’s business interests. This matter requires further consideration, and parliament’s full attention.”

Maimane said as the constitutional body empowered and mandated to maintain oversight over the executive, parliament had to be at the forefront of this matter.

“In the absence of a standing committee on the Presidency, we contend that the most appropriate way forward is the establishment of an ad hoc committee to consider this report, its findings, and how to ensure the president and any other players are held to account,” he said.

According to attorney Richard Chemaly, Ramaphosa’s options were varied. He could either accept the finding and the rulings which come as a result, or he could approach the high court to review the report or parts of it to have it set aside.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Ramaphosa’s office alluded to the fact that they believe Mkhwebane may not have taken into consideration his submissions, which found that her preliminary findings “were deficient, both factually and in law”.

“The president will study the public protector’s report and make a decision on any further action,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

Summary of public protector’s report:

  • Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled the National Assembly concerning the R500,000 donation, when he responded to a question asked by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
  • Mkhwebane has also found that Ramaphosa violated the executive ethics code in that he exposed himself to a situation involving the risk of conflict between himself and his son through businesses owned by AGO (Bosasa).
  • Ramaphosa also breached the executive ethics code by failing to disclose financial interest accrued to him as a result of the donations received towards the CR17 campaign.
  • Mkhwebane is of the view that there is merit to the allegation of money laundering, in terms of the R500,000 Bosasa donation, as it was sent to several intermediaries before landing in the CR17 trust account.

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