President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted he should not have asked for his case before the ANC’s integrity commission to be postponed.
“With hindsight it should have been going there on a preliminary basis,” Ramaphosa told Lukhona Mnguni during an interview on Power FM on Friday morning.
Ramaphosa said: “I thought at the time this matter was so murky and this matter had become so loaded with many cases and many reports…”, that he wanted the courts to clarify it first so that there were not different stories out there.
Ramaphosa has been accused of wrongdoing for having used campaign funds to “buy votes” at the party’s 2017 Nasrec conference.
In March last year, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings that the CR17 campaign’s bank accounts should be made public, saying she had acted unlawfully, recklessly, and without jurisdiction.
The matter was taken to the Constitutional Court in November and is awaiting judgment.
He was asked whether he would admit that his asking for a postponement meant that others could also not be stopped from asking for postponements of their hearings in front of the integrity commission until their cases were heard.
Ramaphosa responded: “I guess that’s a valid point, I will not run away from it. It’s a valid point and a valid concern and we need to deal with it,” he said, should a postponement of the matter negatively impact the integrity commission’s work.
Ramaphosa also conceded that it would be in the interest of transparency to agree to the unsealing of the bank records, but added: “I’m not in control of that.”
He said that was a matter for the court to decide.
In response to a question over what happened to a clause that was inserted in the party’s constitution at its 2007 Polokwane conference forbidding members to collect funds to influence the outcome of a meeting, Ramaphosa said the clause “just fell away” as the constitution was “redone” following discussions in the relevant commission at a subsequent conference.
“I don’t think it was deliberate,” he added.
Asked whether he thought his campaign might have contravened that clause, Ramaphosa said: “I would say that depends on what the funds were utilised for. If they were utilised to buy votes, then definitely so.
“If the funds were utilised to engage in the process to allow people to attend meetings, which we would argue was the case, to hire venues, to travel, I would say that is a completely different utilisation of funds.”
He said it was important to make that distinction because there were a number of things that his campaign paid for, like the hiring of venues, transportation, and T-shirts.
He said accountability was important and that any ANC rules around campaigning should provide for proper audits.
He said, “… every rand and cent”, used by his campaign should be accounted for.
Ramaphosa said his letter in response to the integrity commission chastising him for asking a postponement for his hearing dealt with the “process” and not the substance of the complaint against him.
In the letter, dated 22 December, Ramaphosa bemoaned that the commission’s report on his hearing in November portrayed him as “delinquent”.