President Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to high office was paved on a “clean campaign”, the Presidency said on Saturday, noting that the leaking of confidential banking information of funders is a breach of privacy.
“The selective circulation of this banking information is clearly intended to cast aspersions on the President, and follows the recent report of the Public Protector, in which there was a substantial focus on the funding of the CR17 campaign,” spokesperson Khusela Diko in a statement.
She said the information leaked to the media, supposedly held only by the Office of the Public Protector, includes bank statements of third parties, which record private transactions and which are strictly confidential.
“The Presidency notes with grave concern what amounts to a violation of the constitutionally enshrined right to privacy. This is all the more troubling as it seems clear that this information had been, from the first instance, obtained in an illegal manner.”
Diko reiterated that Ramaphosa’s legal representatives have approached the courts to seal certain documents contained in Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s Bosasa report.
Ramaphosa, through a lawyer’s letter from Harris Nupen Molebatsi Inc, which News24 has seen, said certain bank statements in her report contain confidential information belonging to third parties.
The papers submitted by the President’s lawyers on Thursday suggest that some of the bank statements may have been obtained unlawfully.
Diko said on Saturday that Ramaphosa’s request is pending a determination on whether the information was obtained lawfully and whether it was lawfully sourced in relation to the complaint under investigation.
Request be granted
“It should be noted that, should the request be granted, nothing prevents the court from deciding, once it has established the lawfulness of the source of documents and the appropriateness of it being included in the record, that some or all of the information should be made public.”
She maintained that neither the President nor the campaign has done anything wrong, ethically or legally.
“It is a common and accepted practice in South Africa and across the world for parties and candidates to raise funding from donors for campaigns. From the outset, the CR17 campaign team and the candidate agreed that this should be a clean campaign that operated within the necessary legal prescripts and in line with the values and principles of their organisation,” said Diko.
No special favours or undue advantage
She claimed that it was agreed that the campaign would raise funds from private individuals who supported the effort to restore the integrity and cohesion of the ANC and to put South Africa back on a path of growth and transformation, with an explicit understanding that their contribution would earn them no special favours or undue advantage.
“Funds were raised from a broad cross-section of South African society, sometimes with the help of supportive individuals who had access to various networks. More than a hundred individuals made contributions to the campaign according to their means. The donations were made on a confidential basis,” said Diko.
“As the president had indicated in both the response to the Section 7(9) notice from the Public Protector as well as in his founding affidavit to the court, the funds were utilised to support a range of campaign activities including mobilisation, communication, research, security, administration, logistical support (travel and accommodation) as well as stipends and salaries. Funds were also provided to co-ordinators in provinces throughout South Africa.
“The coordinators used these funds to organise meetings and rallies, arrange transport, hire venues, provide accommodation etc. The president assures the South African public that CR17 was run as a clean campaign and in the spirit of some of this country’s rich democratic traditions- namely accountability, honesty and integrity,” said Diko.
Meanwhile, Mkhwebane’s office maintains that her report is above board.
“The PP [ Public Protector] conducted the investigation by the book. There was no [un]lawful activity,” Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe told News24 on Friday.
Once filed in court, the documents become public information which would be available to everyone, Segalwe said.
News24 revealed last weekend that leaked emails from the CR17 campaign showed that Ramaphosa was consulted by his campaign managers on certain potential donors, despite consistent denials that he was involved in the fundraising efforts of the campaign.
The emails obtained by News24 formed part of Mkhwebane’s report into complaints by the DA and EFF over a response given by Ramaphosa to DA leader Mmusi Maimane in Parliament, in November 2018.
Maimane asked about a supposed payment to the president’s son, Andile, from corruption-accused company Bosasa.
But it turned out, the payment mentioned by Maimane was actually a donation to the CR17 campaign by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson – which Ramaphosa himself revealed in a letter to the speaker of Parliament.