Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will not oppose President Cyril Ramaphosa’s urgent court application for an interim interdict against her Bosasa report.
Her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed this to News24 on Wednesday morning following overnight reports.
But Segalwe said the move “does not mean she is backing down”.
Mail & Guardian reported that the public protector’s decision was in the interests of a speedy determination of the matter.
The report relates to the funding of Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential (CR17) campaign.
According to Sowetan, Mkhwebane will provide Ramaphosa’s lawyers and the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria with documents and evidence she used to determine that Ramaphosa deliberately lied to parliament, was involved in money laundering and actively solicited donations.
Ramaphosa has raised “grave concerns” about Mkhwebane’s grasp of the law in court papers filed on July 31, News24 previously reported.
Ramaphosa said there was no factual foundation for any suspicion of a prima facie case of money laundering and Mkhwebane used the law defining corruption to make her “wholly incompetent” finding of potential money laundering, Business Day reported.
“Corruption and money laundering are two legally distinct concepts. By confusing these two statutes, the public protector has shown a grave misunderstanding of the law,” he said, adding that it was “gravely concerning” that she appeared to be unable to distinguish between the two.
According to Sowetan, Ramaphosa argued that Mkhwebane never shared her evidence that he was aware of campaign reports and donors with him.
In handing over her evidence, the public protector will reportedly have the opportunity to lay bare all this evidence before the court. This includes emails and other campaign correspondence.
In her report, Mkhwebane came to the conclusion that there was merit to allegations of money laundering, based on the facts before her.
Mkhwebane detailed how the R500,000 donation by Bosasa’s Gavin Watson made its way to the CR17 trust account, noting that it went through several intermediaries before landing in Ramaphosa’s campaign fund.
She also found that just over R191 million was transferred into the CR17 account between December 2016 and January 2018.
Around the same amount was transferred out of the account during the same period, Mkhwebane said.
She added that three amounts of around R31 million, R39 million, and over R51 million were transferred by the same donor into the CR17 account.
“In conclusion, on the above revelations relating to the exchanges of large sums of money, some of which [were] received from private companies, I wish to express my preliminary view that such a scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these monies to the campaign,” said Mkhwebane.
Ramaphosa then decided to take Mkhwebane’s report, in which it was found that he had violated the executive code of ethics, on urgent judicial review.
According to Times Live, Ramaphosa urged the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to decide on his review of Mkhwebane’s report on an urgent basis as it is “undesirable for the president of the Republic to have an indefinite cloud of suspicion of wrongdoing hanging over his head” at “a critical time where South Africa needs to attract foreign investments to help drive our sluggish economy”.
Ramaphosa said there was “no factual foundation whatsoever for any suspicion of a prima facie case of money laundering” identified by Mkhwebane in her report on his campaign funding, and added that she “does not set out why she believes that the suspicion of money laundering is sustainable”.
However, News24 published a report that poked holes in Ramaphosa’s claim that he knew nothing about his campaign funding during the build-up to the ANC’s 2017 national elective conference, where he was elected party president.
Leaked emails that News24 obtained showed Ramaphosa was consulted by his campaign managers on certain potential donors, despite consistent denials from his team that he was not involved in any fundraising efforts.
The leaked emails form part of Mkhwebane’s report.
In a letter sent to Ramaphosa’s legal team on Monday, Mkhwebane’s lawyers said she was opposed to the idea of an urgent interdict but would not oppose the application in court “in the interest of a speedy determination of the review”, according to Sowetan.
Ramaphosa will reportedly then have an opportunity to respond to her evidence before she files her answer to Ramaphosa’s review of her report.
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