Despite being strangely timed, leaked emails allegedly revealing details of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign bring the president’s honesty into question, an expert says.
Over the weekend, a News24 report detailed the contents of emails leaked to the publication, in which names of potential donors and the involvement of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the campaign were revealed.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said while one could understandably question the timing of the leak itself, the contents of the emails as told by the reports warranted serious and urgent answers from Ramaphosa.
“It points to a lack of full disclosure from Ramaphosa in his parliamentary replies. The issue isn’t so much around the soliciting of money, it is all certainly legitimate. There is nothing I can see on the question of legality when it comes to the facilitation of this.
“For me, the issue is whether Ramaphosa sufficiently distanced himself from the fundraising and whether or not he compromised himself in terms of either knowing or not knowing who the donors were.”
Silke was referring to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s investigation into the campaign, which released findings now being challenged by the president.
Among the most damning was that Ramaphosa lied under oath in a parliamentary answer, in which he claimed no knowledge of donations made to his campaign by state capture-linked firm Bosasa.
Mkhwebane suggested Ramaphosa was privy to information about donors in the campaign – a point which now seems to be supported by the emails leaked to News24.
The emails also point to the direct involvement of Gordhan as a key facilitator in the solicitation of campaign funds.
“The types of people who have an axe to grind with Gordhan will certainly have an issue with his name being there,” said Silke.
“But I think in any campaign there is always someone who will be entrusted with the fundraising aspect, and one would choose someone who has some degree of credibility.”
Silke added that Mkhwebane could very well have been privy to these emails, given that she cites them as one of the sources of the information she used to pin Ramaphosa in her report.
“It must have been information that the public protector has at her disposal,” said Silke.
“The fact that News24 ran with it could just be in the interest of what they regard as transparency. In the journalism world, a leak is a leak. But I think one can deduce that this is private information that [Mkhwebane] is likely privy to and which is now probably doing the rounds.”
Former leader of the Democratic Alliance Tony Leon gave scathing commentary on the party last week, calling it naive for the DA to trust a report coming from someone he described as “dishonest”.