Money laundering, Misleading parliament, Violation of Executive Ethics: Public Protector goes to war with President

By Ferial Haffajee 19 July 2019
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Photo: Tebogo Letsie)

According to the Public Protector’s report on the Bosasa donation, President Cyril Ramaphosa misled Parliament, violated the executive ethics code, risked State Capture and may also be party to money laundering.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has landed a bombshell report on Friday, 19 July against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

She has found that Ramaphosa misled Parliament, violated the Executive Ethics Code and she claims to have found prima facie evidence of money laundering related to what she says could be about R800-million to R900-million received in various accounts used to fund Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC president.

In the report on a complaint laid by the DA in November 2018 related to a R500,000.00 donation to his campaign by Bosasa (later called African Global Operations), Mkhwebane has made profound and detailed findings against Ramaphosa.

Mkhwebane has found that Ramaphosa misled Parliament in how he answered a question related to the donation by the DA and in a later letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

President Ramaphosa’s reply was in breach of the Executive Ethics Code, the stand of which includes deliberate and inadvertent misleading of the Legislature. He deliberately misled Parliament, in that he should have allowed himself sufficient time to research on a well-informed response (to Parliament).

I, therefore, find President Ramaphosa’s conduct, although ostensibly in good faith, to be inconsistent with his office as a member of the Cabinet and in violation of section 96(1) of the Constitution.”

In addition, Mkhwebane found that donations to Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC president “were benefits of a material nature to President Ramaphosa” even though these were received into trust accounts. “President Ramaphosa as a presidential candidate for the ANC political party received campaign contributions which benefited him in his personal capacity. He was, therefore, duty-bound to declare (to Parliament) such financial benefit. Failure to disclose the material benefits, including a donation from AGO (Africa Global Operations or Bosasa) constitutes a breach of the Code.” Mkhwebane said that as deputy president of the country at the time of his campaign, he had been duty-bound to declare these in the Members Interest register at Parliament. Mkhwebane said these amounted to hundreds of millions of rand.

Mkhwebane also found that “the R500,000 payment (the Bosasa donation) passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, thus raising the suspicion of money laundering, has merit”.

What happens now?

Mkhwebane has instructed the National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to: refer the report to Parliament’s Joint Committee of Ethics and Members Interests (Ramaphosa is no longer an MP, so this may be difficult) and to consider referring the report to the National Assembly. In addition, Mkhwebane has said the Speaker must within 30 days “demand publication of all donations received by President Ramaphosa because as he was the then Deputy President, he is bound to declare such financial interests into the Members’ registerable interests register in the spirit of accountability and transparency”.

Mkhwebane has tossed the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi a hot potato – she has instructed her to, within 30 days, to “conduct further investigation into the prima facie evidence of money laundering as uncovered during my investigation, and deal with it accordingly”.

In addition, she has given National Police Commissioner Kehla Sithole 30 days in which to investigate criminal conduct against Bosasa (AGO) CEO Gavin Watson for lying under oath. DM


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