President Cyril Ramaphosa has stuck to his guns that he was never privy to the financial records of his 2017 ANC presidential campaign, known as the CR17 campaign.
Taking the stand on Thursday for the second day at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Ramaphosa reiterated his claim the CR17 campaign managers took a deliberate decision to shield him from the financial contributions of his donors.
He said this was done in order to protect him from being compromised as a candidate.
The commission’s evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, questioned Ramaphosa about the controversial R500,000 donation his campaign received from late Bosasa boss Gavin Watson.
Ramaphosa said he was not aware of the donation and that the money was solicited by one of his colleagues who was involved in the CR17 campaign.
“Up to today, I don’t know how those funds have been managed. I did meet some of the people who gave money at dinners to explain precisely what we were seeking to achieve by my candidature and that’s where it ended,” Ramaphosa said.
He said he had also contributed money towards his campaign.
Ramaphosa suggested that the colleague, who he did not identify, wanted Watson to personally donate the money and not from his corruption-accused company, Bosasa.
“He seems to have said, ‘I want you to give money personally from your own money and not from the company itself.’ So, that is what I believe he seems to have done. So, of course as the story was made public, it seemed like it came from Bosasa. I don’t remember the finer details, I think it came from him or one of his companies or accounts,” Ramaphosa said.
“I was far away from the finances for the CR17 campaign for the reasons that I’ve articulated that the managers did not want me to know.”
Ramaphosa also rubbished claims that his campaign raised R1 billion from various donors who wanted him to replace Jacob Zuma as ANC president.
“It was never a billion rand. I’m told the money that was raised was some R300 million or so but never a billion. But I don’t know the full facts because they literally decided to keep it away from me.”
Ramaphosa denies funds used for vote buying
At the same time, Ramaphosa also denied claims the CR17 campaign was involved in vote buying at the ANC’s 54th national conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg.
“I said to my comrades right at the beginning, I never want to be part of a campaign that is going to be sent into all these deviant types of behaviours that we talk about in the ANC about vote buying. And I even said I would rather lose the race than have votes bought,” he said.
He said the money was used to transport people, hire venues, purchase food and finance the operations of the campaign.
“As it turns out, there is still a debt that has to be paid in a number of forms and ways after the campaign.”