Ramaphosa’s donations were ‘gross and ill-advised’, not ‘illegal and corrupt’ – Haffajee

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Meanwhile, a clip from 2017 of the president slamming those in the ANC for ‘buying favour and votes’ is being widely shared.

Journalist Ferial Haffajee, who divides her professional time between Fin24 and Daily Maverick, where she is an associate editor, responded to a Twitter user who asked her and investigative journalist Pauli van Wyk about their “views on #RamaphosaLeaks”.

This refers to recent reports in Sunday Independent and News24 which included leaked emails from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s successful CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency, which led to him becoming state president.

Haffajee made it clear that she felt any equivalency between these emails and the #GuptaLeaks, a cache of leaked emails between people linked to the notorious Gupta family, was false.

READ MORE: Daily Maverick rubbishes Ndlozi’s query on the ‘obvious lie’ it received R300K from CR17

According to the journalist, the #GuptaLeaks “were an anatomy of how a patronage network run by the family stole a country”.

In contrast, she continued, the leaked emails from Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign did not prove any illegality or corruption.

“The money President Ramaphosa spent on an internal party campaign was gross and ill-advised but can you point out what’s illegal and corrupt?” she asked, before advising the Twitter user to “try for more than slogans”.

The severity of what the leaked CR17 emails expose is currently a topic of debate on social media.

A tweet from earlier on Tuesday, which has been going viral, shows Ramaphosa discussing those within the ANC he said had been “buying favour and votes”. Many of those commenting on the clip clearly feel it was showing hypocrisy on the president’s part.

The clip is from an April 2017 speech at a South African Communist Party (SACP) event to honour the late Chris Hani, which was interpreted in the media at the time as the unofficial launch of his campaign for the ANC presidency.

“There’s money being passed in bags and brown envelopes. It’s become a big thing in our movement today,” Ramaphosa said.

“As we’re leading to this conference (Nasrec), money has started being the currency of buying favour and votes. That is already happening.

“In many parts of our country, the interests of the people have been rendered subordinate to the interests of the few as they jostle for positions of authority and access to resources,” he added.

Leaked emails from the CR17 campaign were first mentioned by News24 in a story which included names of potential donors, appeared to show the involvement of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the campaign, and seemed to show that Ramaphosa’s claim that he was not involved in the running of the campaign or aware of its donors was at least partially untrue.

Then, in a Sunday Independent article titled “How the CR17 campaign funds were channelled”, it was reported that the publication had seen the campaign’s bank records, as well as emails and financial statements which identified the beneficiaries of the “R1 billion” campaign fund, who according to the story were “politicians, campaign managers, and strategists” who “earned millions for their roles in Ramaphosa’s” successful CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency.

READ MORE: Why Mkhwebane’s ‘rogue unit’ report is deeply flawed

The report alleged that some of Ramaphosa’s main funders were numerous wealthy businesspeople, including mining magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, who reportedly gave R10 million; Pick n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman, who gave R1 million; and eNCA founder, director and owner of Hosken Consolidated Investments Johnny Copelyn, who donated an alleged R2 million on behalf of the news channel. Former Absa CEO Maria Ramos was another alleged donor.

The article was co-written by a trio that included Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Afrika – two of the journalists behind now-discredited Sunday Times reports on the so-called Sars “rogue unit”. They both parted ways with the Sunday Times after these reports were retracted and apologised for when the media ombudsman found them to be “inaccurate, misleading, and unfair”.

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