Pretoria High Court on Tuesday found that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not mislead Parliament about a R500 000 Bosasa donation, as earlier said by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her report.
The court said Mkhwebane acted recklessly and irrationally by raising money laundering suspicion by the #CR17 campaign with no tangible evidence.
The court also found that the #CR17 campaign donation was private and the president had no obligation to declare.
The judgment was scathing on the Public Protector, with Judge Elias Matojane saying that the president was correct in his court papers to say Mkhwebane was ‘confused’.
The judge said the Public Protector’s approach was fatally flawed due to fundamental error of law.
“We find (Public Protector) did not only commit a material misdirection in her legal approach [to the issue of misleading parliament], but also reached an irrational and unlawful conclusion on the facts before her,” said Matojane.
“The review must be upheld and the findings set aside.”
The high court has ordered Mkhwebane to pay punitive costs to Ramaphosa.
Mkhwebane has also been ordered to pay costs of the National Prosecuting Authority and Parliament in challenging her now invalidated report.
President Ramaphosa has meanwhile welcomed the high court judgment.
“The court reaffirmed the President’s assertion that there was no factual basis for the Public Protector’s finding that the President misled Parliament in relation to a donation made to the CR17 campaign from Mr Gavin Watson of African Global Operation,’ said presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.
“The Presidency welcomes the settlement of this matter and reaffirms its commitment to honest and effective governance.”
Meanwhile, the EFF rejected the ruling of the high court.
The party said it will appeal the court ruling with the Constitutional Court.
“We reject that Ramaphosa did not personally benefit from the CR17 campaign funds. We also reject the conclusion that he therefore did not have to declare the funds to Parliament,” the party said in a statement issued by spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
“The Gauteng North High Court ruling has also effectively rendered the oath of members of parliament futile, uprooting the respect this important arm of the state has. The finding that Ramaphosa did not mislead Parliament is not only ridiculous, it exposes the court as an institution complicit in weakening Parliament. From here on, no one, from members of the executive to state bureaucrats who come to account to parliament will ever respect the principle to not lie under oath. They will no longer fear parliament or respect the things they say in its sittings.”
Reacting to the Pretoria High Court judgment, the DA’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said his party hoped that the latest court finding will be the evidence needed to swing the balance of opinion and pressure in favour of removing her.
The DA has tabled a motion in the National Assembly to have her removed from office.
“Yet again, the courts have found Mkhwebane to be unable to perform her responsibilities in a competent, fair and unbiased manner. We hope this brings to an end her disastrous chapter in office,” said Steenhuisen.
“Successive court rulings against her, as well as photos of such known state capture agents as Mosebenzi Zwane and Bongani Bongo at her 50th birthday party, support the DA’s long-held view that Mkhwebane is not fit for office, that her appointment was politically motivated, that she is aligned to the pro-Zuma faction of the ANC, and that hers was a state capture deployment all along.”
Steenhuisen said, however, that the court judgment against Mkhwebane in Pretoria on Tuesday does not absolve Ramaphosa from any allegations of ‘wrongdoing’ because his innocence was still a matter of debate.
“For the President to find it above board that his son receives millions of rands in “consulting fees” from a company that does billions of rands of business with the ANC government is simply not right,” said Steenhuisen.
“The fact is that Andile Ramaphosa was only on the Bosasa payroll because he is close to the centre of power. This is an abuse of power.”
According to Steenhuisen, these crucial questions below still need answers:
- What services did Andile Ramaphosa deliver for R2 million and why did this contract coincide precisely with Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president?
- What was the connection between Andile Ramaphosa’s consultancy and the massive contracts Bosasa got from the state?
- Why did Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson’s R500 000 donation to the CR17 campaign move through a number of accounts before ending up in the campaign bank account?
- What exactly is the financial relationship between Cyril Ramaphosa and Bosasa and between the ANC and Bosasa?
- The Bosasa donation was part of a R400 million campaign budget. Considering there were only 4500 delegates voting, what was this money spent on?
(Compiled by Charles Molele)