At a question-and-answer session in parliament on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to a question from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on whether or not he will fully disclose all the funding details surrounding his successful CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency.
Ramaphosa said it would be unfair for him to be made to do so “until such time as all candidates are held to the same requirements of disclosure and transparency”.
The president said the funding of political campaigns is an “important matter”, but added that some of those who have been sharing leaked information from his campaign have a “sinister motive” and are trying to undermine positive change in the country.
The CR17 campaign was a “forward looking” campaign, and there was no wrongdoing involved in it, the president added. He also said it was “undertaken under difficult conditions”.
“In its funding and its activities, there was no wrongdoing, no criminality and no abuse of public resources,” he said.
Ramaphosa also brought up the Political Party Funding Act, which he signed into law earlier this year, stating that it “does regulate public and private funding of political parties and requires the disclosure of donations accepted”.
He added, thought that the Act “does not extend to the funding of internal party leadership contests” such as his CR17 campaign, which resulted in him becoming president of first the governing party, then the country.
The president said that he was open to a discussion on whether funding of “internal party contests” should be made transparent.
“This is perhaps the appropriate time for this House to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be regulated,” he said.
Before this, Ramaphosa expressed the view that those who contributed to the CR17 campaign did nothing wrong.
“Those who contributed to the campaign – whether as organisers, volunteers, service providers or donors – did so out of a genuine concern for the future of the country,” he said.
“If there were members of the executive who were part of the campaign and were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members exercising their democratic and constitutional right. They owe no apology for what they did.”
In addition to there being “no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests” as it stands, Ramaphosa said that there also isn’t “a provision for the disclosure of such information in the Executive Ethics Code or in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members”.