Public Protector slams Ramaphosa's reaction to Bosasa report: 'I acted within the law and Constitution'

2019-07-22 14:09
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Thapelo Morebudi)

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Thapelo Morebudi)

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said President Cyril Ramaphosa should simply have announced that he intended to take her to court over her report into his conduct, instead of pronouncing that it contained "numerous factual inaccuracies of a material nature".

"The president should have just said he is taking my report on review and it's for the court to decide, because it is as if he is now reviewing my report. It is for the court to decide because I have acted within the law and Constitution," Mkhwebane said.

She was speaking during a SABC Morning Live interview with anchor Leanne Manas on Monday morning about her findings in the report on a R500 000 donation to Ramaphosa's 2017 ANC presidential campaign.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa had misled Parliament when he answered a question from DA leader Mmusi Maimane about the R500 000 he received from Gavin Watson, the head of facilities management company Bosasa (now African Global Operations), News24 previously reported.

Mkhwebane also said that transactions into and from several trust accounts for Ramaphosa's campaign raised suspicions of money laundering and should be investigated by the NPA. 

While the president initially answered that the payment was for his son, Andile, who had a contract with Bosasa, he later claimed it was for his campaign and that he was not aware of it.

On Sunday evening, the president announced he was seeking an urgent judicial review of the report, which found that he had violated the executive code of ethics.

"I have decided to take this action, not out of disrespect for the Public Protector as a crucial institution of our democracy, but in the expectation that the institution will ultimately be strengthened by an independent and impartial judicial review," Ramaphosa said during an address at the Union Buildings.

WATCH: ConCourt upholds Mkhwebane costs order, finds she was dishonest in Absa probe

Mkhwebane said in the television interview that she had done all the necessary investigations to reach the conclusions made in the report.

She told Manas that Ramaphosa shouldn't have even answered the question Maimane put to him.

"The president was under no obligation to even respond to DA leader Mmusi Maimane's questions because it was a follow-up question. He should have said he would answer at a later stage," she said.

The Public Protector said her report was based on the facts before her office and not only on hearsay and information from the DA. 

She added that when the complaint was received, her office had to determine what transpired within the prescripts of the law. 

"If you read my report, we determined three issues. The first issue, the lying in Parliament, he has explained, and we had all the evidence and we had taken into consideration his response as far as that issue is concerned.

"The second issue was related to the issue of declaring the donations he received. We have taken into consideration those responses. The last one of suspicion of money laundering we have also taken into consideration those responses."

She told Manas that the findings were made after her office's investigators followed the path of the money from one account to another. 

"The R500 000, which was the main issue of dispute, we had to follow the money. We had to investigate, from which account to which account…The money was deposited from Mr Watson's account…," she said. 

Mkhwebane said the fact of the matter was that the president was a member of the executive at the time and was obliged to declare any donations made to him. 

"It needs to be very clear to South Africans that I investigated this matter on complaints, and also I investigated the president because he is the executive in terms of the EMEA (the Executive Members' Ethics Act)," she said.

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Read more on:    public protector  |  bosasa  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  busisiwe mkhwebane
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