Ramaphosa campaign funds: Mkhwebane goes for a R400m KO

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is investigating President Cyril Ramaphosa for alleged money-laundering related to donations of more than R400m to his ANC presidential campaign, the Sunday Times has reported

According to the paper, Mkhwebane has scrutinised three bank accounts linked to Ramaphosa and is questioning certain transactions.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane submitted a complaint against Ramaphosa in November last year, News24 reported.

The DA's complaint arose after Ramaphosa initially told the National Assembly that his son Andile had received money from Bosasa for services rendered in terms of a consultancy contract.

The Presidency later corrected that reply in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

The president said the R500 000 payment in question was actually a donation that had been made to his ANC presidential campaign, of which he had previously been unaware.

Bosasa has received billions of rand in government contracts over the past decade and has been implicated in alleged corruption during the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Earlier this month, Maimane said that he had written to Mkhwebane to demand she release the "full, unredacted" report on relations between Ramaphosa and controversial facilities company Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) within 48 hours.

This after a report in the Sunday Independent said Mkhwebane's "preliminary report" had found Ramaphosa guilty of "inadvertently misleading Parliament" and that he had failed to declare a R500 000 donation from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson to his ANC presidential campaign in 2017.

More time to respond

Last week, the Public Protector granted Ramaphosa more time to respond to allegations relating to a campaign donation to him by Bosasa, News24 reported.

Mkhwebane's spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the president requested an extension until June 28 and she granted it with the hope that he would respond sooner.

Ramaphosa had cited preparations for the State of the Nation Address as denying him an opportunity to consult with his legal team, Segalwe added.

Segalwe pointed out that the Public Protector's office had brought Ramaphosa's attention to evidence that implicated him and that is why he needed to respond, before a report could be drawn up.

The Sunday Times has now revealed that Mkhwebane's investigation extends beyond the initial R500 000, but "to other transactions in three bank accounts linked to the president".

According to the publication, the investigation has led her to suspect that Ramaphosa had used these accounts to launder money. 

The presidency did not respond to these allegations, telling the Sunday Times it would submit its response to the Public Protector in the next few days.

Could lead to impeachment

Ramaphosa's campaign managers have reportedly denied that the president had any knowledge or control over donations to his campaign, and that Mkhwebane was confused about what the funds were used for.

Some of the money in question was reportedly, among other things, used for "logistical purposes". The Sunday Times quoted James Motlatsi who said Ramaphosa did not have any knowledge of any transactions. 

In February, Ramaphosa issued an eight-page statement to the Public Protector in which he stated he was "not aware that a payment had been made on behalf of Mr Gavin Watson to the CR17 campaign", News24 reported.

However, should Mkhwebane find against Ramaphosa, it could provide evidence for impeachment.

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