THE Pretoria High Court has dismissed with costs an application by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to have President Cyril Ramaphosa’s financial statements of the 2017 African National Congress (ANC) presidential campaign (CR17) made public.
The EFF had approached the court to seek the disclosure of the statements in an application linked to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s invalidated report on the CR17 campaign finances.
During the case, Gauteng Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba had agreed to a request from Ramaphosa’s lawyers for the bank statements to be sealed on the basis that they contained confidential donor information.
The EFF lodged the application soon after the court agreed to seal details of the CR17 funders in August 2019, following an application made by Ramaphosa.
The EFF argued in court papers: “Holding politicians, especially those in government, accountable for who they get money from, and who they pay that money to, is crucial in ensuring that politicians and the wider political establishment remain transparent, open and accountable.”
“Unwarranted secrecy in the courts undermines the public’s faith in the justice system. Secrecy perverts the system, and allows a public forum to become a tool for keeping wrongdoing secret.”
The EFF has expressed its shock and disappointment at the ruling in the high court.
“We are essentially shocked that a court can take such a decision. The court has essentially sealed and covered the donors of what has made the President of South Africa,” said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
“We did not expect a court of law, which should as part of its mandate ensure that there is transparency, could make such a decision.”
Pambo believes the ruling opens the door for donors to demand payback from Ramaphosa for the donations made to his campaign.
“It is in the public’s best interest that the documents are unsealed so that we know why certain decisions are made by the president. This just means the president can be bought and the country can be sold to the highest bidder,” he said.
EFF leader Julius Malema said in a tweet on Tuesday:
According to Right2Know, the leaked emails have called into question the integrity of the Public Protector’s investigation – including the protection of information that ought to be kept confidential through that process.
It said there were questions about how properly the information was obtained, and whether that information could be relied upon even to take the remedial action proposed by the Public Protector.
The leaking of very specific information in a matter that is before the courts raised some questions about the intention behind the leaks.
The EFF is expected to appeal the ruling.
In a statement issued on Tuesday after the court judgment, the EFF said it will directly approach the Constitutional Court on the matter of unsealing the CR17 documents in the interests of ensuring that “our state is not captured by people who made an investment in an individual, in order to secure their economic and political interests.”
- Inside Politics