Three bank accounts of President Cyril Ramaphosa, said to be linked to his election campaign, have reportedly been subpoened and scrutinised by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as her investigation heats up.
Sunday Times reports that after DA leader Mmusi Maimane claimed that Bosasa had given R500 000 to Ramaphosa’s campaign, which the president first denied and then admitted to, Mkhwebane’s investigation began, and has escalated to uncover over R400 million in allegedly laundered donations to the president’s campaign.
Maimane claimed that he had evidence of a questionable payment of R500,000 made to his son, Andile Ramaphosa. The president said he was aware of the business relationship Maimane was talking about, but said it was legally instituted through a company Andile did business with.
Ramaphosa said in May that he had received a section 7(9) of the Public Protector Act notice from Mkhwebane, which means that if anyone is implicated during the Public Protector’s investigation, and that implication could be detrimental, an opportunity to respond will be afforded to the person, in this case, Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa was given until Friday to respond, but requested to extend the deadline to June 28.
Ramaphosa claimed he and his campaign managers had made a “deliberate” decision not to be involved in fundraising activities, but to only address meetings and dinners with potential funders.
“We had decided that I would not be provided with the identity of donors or the amounts pledged, as I did not want to feel under obligation to them in any shape or form at any time in the future.”
As a result, he was not aware that he had received payment from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. This was when he decided to “correct” his response to Maimane in the National Assembly, he explained.
His campaign managers’ attempt to meet with Watson to return the money had supposedly been unsuccessful, and, as a result, the R500,000 was transferred into an attorney’s account “until such time as these matters surrounding Global African Operations are clarified following various concerning disclosures before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture”.
Thereafter, he said he would make a decision on whether the money should be returned to Watson, passed on to appropriate government authorities or be donated to a charity.
Mkhwebane is not only looking into the R500 000 ‘donation’, but also at the three bank accounts that have been subpoened and belong to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and the CR17 campaign.
It is reported that should adverse findings against Ramaphosa be found, this would be grounds for impeachment.
A friend of Ramaphosa James Motlatsi said that it was him who asked Watson for donations, which was why Ramaphosa was not aware of the R500 000. He added that this was why he made a ‘mistake’ when initially denying the R500 000 in Parliament.
Motlatsi told Sunday Times that the other donors were to remain confidential.
Other sources close to the CR17 campaign said that Mkhwebane is not considering the fact that some of the money was for the foundation, and that moving the money was purely for logistical reasons. Some supporters of the president even claim that the probe is nothing more than an attempt to squander Ramaphosa’s image.
Some have also questioned why Mkhwebane has not investigated ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s alleged involvement in the Estina dairy farm saga by using a 2011 high court judgement, which allowed for the public protector to extend an investigation, like she did with Ramaphosa.
Concerns are being raised by senior ANC members that questions into the public protector’s fitness to hold office may split the party, with Magashule inevitably resisting any action against Mkhwebane.
(Compiled by Nica Schreuder)
Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde