South Africa

RULING UPHELD

ConCourt rejects Public Protector appeal over CR17 campaign report

ConCourt rejects Public Protector appeal over CR17 campaign report
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Felix Dlangamandla)

The Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appeal against a lower court judgment which found that her report into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign funding contained errors in law – with the top court also expressing concern about Mkhwebane’s ‘quality of reasoning’.

A majority bench of the Constitutional Court has upheld a 2020 high court ruling which set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “CR17” campaign to become ANC president in 2017.

Mkhwebane’s July 2019 report found that Ramaphosa had misled Parliament when he responded to a question from former DA leader Mmusi Maimane regarding a payment of R500,000 made by Bosasa into a Ramaphosa-linked account. Ramaphosa told Maimane that the payment was to his son, Andile, for consulting work carried out for Bosasa. He was later informed, however, that the payment was actually a donation to his CR17 campaign – about which the President subsequently informed the Speaker in a letter.

Mkhwebane also found that Ramaphosa violated the Executive Ethics Code by failing to declare donations made to his campaign, and that there was prima facie evidence of money laundering regarding his campaign donations. She further found that the President may have personally benefited from CR17 campaign donations.

In a majority judgment penned by Judge Chris Jafta, the Constitutional Court agreed with the high court that the President did not “wilfully” mislead Parliament in his response to Maimane.

“For a member of the executive to breach the [Executive Ethics] Code, she or he must have given incorrect information with the intention to mislead the legislature. Incorrect information alone is not sufficient to constitute a violation of the code,” the judges found.

“A perusal of the Public Protector’s report reveals that she seriously misconstrued the Code.”

The judges further upheld the finding of the lower court that the Public Protector was “plainly not authorised” to investigate the affairs of the CR17 campaign, because these did not relate to the activities of an organ of state.

“What is most concerning is the quality of the reasoning leading up to the various findings,” Judge Jafta wrote.

Mkhwebane’s suspicions of money laundering were dismissed by the ConCourt as not being supported by the available evidence.

“It appears that she… reached a conclusion that was devoid of any factual foundation,” wrote Judge Jafta.

Once again, it also did not fall within the Public Protector’s powers to investigate money laundering allegations.

The only judge to dissent on the ConCourt bench was the outgoing chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng. He wrote that his interpretation of the original complaint laid by Maimane meant that Mkhwebane was indeed entitled to investigate every aspect of the President’s CR17-related conduct that she considered questionable.

The ConCourt has also ruled that the high court must make a finding on an application brought by investigative journalism unit amaBhungane on whether the Executive Ethics Code should include an obligation for politicians to declare the donations made to campaigns run for positions within parties. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    This is more lovely news. I’m really keen to understand who is this “public” she is supposedly protecting. I seriously hope she doesn’t include me.

  • Tim Price says:

    She applies so-called “Niehaus/Zuma/Manyi/Mpofu reasoning” in other words, non-existent reasoning, just made up stuff, like fairy tales.

  • Monique Martinez says:

    just another authority expressing concern about her ‘quality of reasoning’… what the heck ? … enough is enough

  • Coen Gous says:

    Rebecca, brilliant journalist, writes an article, reporting style. And I am not criticizing, just think this matter was so obvious that is really was not worth your pen to paper, and could have been left to a junior reporter. This matter was already decided by the high court, and in today’s news, is hard worth reporting on. The PP has for years now already proofed how blatantly incompetent she is. Al she does is waste tax payers money.

  • Anne Felgate says:

    I disagree
    This is very important news and she’s has an impeccable style and succinct reporting of yet another nail in the RET faction

  • John Bestwick says:

    I,m having serious concerns about Moegeng Moegeng’s mental health lately. Inappropriate at the JSC hearings and now dissenting about this ridiculous PP. The majority got it right:” concern about her reasoning” is there for all to see.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider