It was “dumb” and “naive” of the DA to accept the Public Protector’s report on President Cyril Ramaphosa at face value, former DA leader Tony Leon said during a lecture on the value of liberal political parties.
“It was a big mistake to accept Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report that Cyril Ramaphosa misled Parliament,” Leon said.
“I can understand that they [the DA] referred the matter to the Public Protector because they had no other option. “But to accept at face value the report from such a dishonest woman was dumb and naive,” Leon said.
In her report, Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa was aware of the R500 000 donation from African Global Operations, formerly Bosasa, to his election campaign and that he had deliberately misled Parliament about it.
She also believed that Ramaphosa and members of his CR17 campaign were involved in money laundering.
Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa violated the ethics code for executives by not declaring the donations to his campaign.
Ramaphosa has gone to court to seeking a judicial review of Mkhwebane’s findings, describing her report as “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed.”
Shamila Batohi, head of the National Prosecuting Authority, has been asked to investigate the money laundering claims after Mkhwebane found that money was moved between accounts during the ANC leadership election campaign.
Weekend reports of leaked emails which suggest that Ramaphosa knew the funders of his CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency has added to the pressure on Ramaphosa.
News24 reported that it’s in possession of several emails from inside the Ramaphosa campaign showing that the president was consulted by the managers of his campaign about plans to approach several donors, including a Greek shipping tycoon with links to the arms deal and a politically connected “socialite” previously suspected of smuggling millions of rands of gold out of the country.
These emails have been circulated among the president’s political opponents and by anti-Ramaphosa accounts on Twitter in recent days.
“We have verified the accuracy of these emails and understand that Ramaphosa’s campaign managers believe their communication may have been illegally intercepted,” the online publication said.
Mkhwebane used the complaint of suspected money laundering with the Watson donation to obtain the CR17 campaign’s bank statements and warns in her report that Ramaphosa may have been captured by his private donors.
She identified donations totalling almost R200m that went into the campaign, including three large amounts from the same donor.
In his court appeal, Ramaphosa has asked for an urgent interdict to have the implementation of remedial action – which includes him naming the donors to his campaign – set aside pending a review of the Public Protector’s findings.
Leon’s criticism follows that of another former DA leader Helen Zille, who said Maimane should not have approached the Public Protector about the donations while the DA was, at the same time, calling for her (Mkhwebane’s) removal.
DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the party still maintains that Mkhwebane should vacate her position, but said the DA respected the office of the Public Protector and the findings must be respected until a court finds otherwise.
The Public Protector’s position is expected to be discussed during a meeting of the justice and correctional services portfolio committee in Parliament at later this month.