CR17 donations: Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane in court

2020-Feb-06   06:42

CR17 donations: Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane in court
Senior Counsel, Wim Trengove

- Silver Sibiya

Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane's lawyers told the court on Tuesday that there is always a risk that anyone who donates money to a presidential candidate expects something in return.

This as Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and judges Elias Matojane and Raylene Keightley heard arguments in the case that Ramaphosa brought before the Palace of Justice in Pretoria for Mkhwebane's findings against him to be reviewed.

Last year the Public Protector found in her investigation that President Ramaphosa misled Parliament when responding to a question about a R500 000 donation from Bosasa Chief Executive Officer, Gavin Watson (who has since died in a car accident) and a contract between Bosasa and the president's son, Andile.

 Watson had donated the half a million rand to Ramaphosa's campaign to be elected ANC president, a position that allowed him to become the state president.

The probe saw Mkhwebane getting deeper into many other financial donations for Ramaphosa's campaign.

“The funding by private parties for you to become head of state - we can debate if they are really going to expect a benefit - but the risk does exist that people don’t just donate a billion to an individual [while they] can’t donate to a school,” Mkhwebane's legal representative, Muzi Sikhakhane, told the court.

“I submit to you Judge President that we should look at the conduct of the president in the context that he was called upon to be.

“I think the president is in a better situation to explain himself than it has been explained on his behalf,” Sikhakhane said.

Earlier in the day president Ramaphosa's Senior Counsel, Wim Trengove, described Mkhwebane, as "rogue" and a person who's reckless in how they do their job. Trengove and his team that include Advocate Tembeka Ngukaitobi, want the court to overturn Mkhwebane's report on donations to Ramaphosa and to declare it unlawful.

"This is a rogue public protector, who doesn't pay any heed to the facts or the law in her reckless determination to find the president guilty of improper conduct,” Trengove said.

Ngukaitobi also told the court that all the donated money went towards the CR17 campaign - Ramaphosa's ANC campaign - and not to the president’s personal account.

“She [Mkhwebane] concludes that the president received campaign contributions, but there are no facts that the president ever received the contributions. The campaign contributions went to CR17 Campaign. Not a cent went to President Cyril Ramaphosa,” said Ngukaitobi.

The case continues on Wednesday and Thursday with investigative journalist unit, AmaBhungane, the Financial Intelligence Centre and Economic Freedom Fighters scheduled to present their contributions to the case.

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