Ramaphosa to Public Protector: I did not deliberately mislead Parliament about R500 000 Bosasa donation

2019-02-05 16:03
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (File)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (File) (Theana Breugem )

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President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a statement to the Public Protector, says he "did not deliberately mislead Parliament" regarding the R500 000 Bosasa contribution to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign.

The statement follows Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirming on January 25 that she would investigate whether Ramaphosa had lied about a campaign donation received from controversial facilities company Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations (AGO).

Mkhwebane's decision came after DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF leader Julius Malema on several occasions said that Ramaphosa had lied to Parliament about the money his ANC presidential campaign received from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. Ramaphosa met with Mkhwebane on January 29, to discuss the donation.

Bosasa has received billions of rands in government contracts over the past decade and has been implicated in alleged corruption.

Its alleged dubious financial transactions are currently being laid bare before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, where former chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi testified that the company paid bribes to many high-ranking public officials.

Agrizzi claimed top government officials, the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and journalists, among others, benefitted from its corrupt activities.

Ramaphosa initially told National Assembly that his son Andile had received money from the company for services rendered in terms of a consultancy contract. The Presidency later corrected that reply in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

'Not aware' of payment into CR17 account

He 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.

Last week, Malema threatened to turn the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday into a question-and-answer session for the president, should he not come clean about his dealings with Bosasa before then.

"I was not aware that a payment had been made on behalf of Mr Gavin Watson to the CR17 campaign," Ramaphosa said in his eight-page statement.

Ramaphosa explained that he had been made aware that his son, Andile, had received a R500 000 payment from AGO in September last year.

Ramaphosa then approached his son, who told him that his company, Blue Crane Capital, had signed an advisory mandate with AGO in December 2017, as well as an anti-bribery and corruption policy in January 2018.

The latter, according to Ramaphosa, was a precautionary measure, following his election as ANC leader.

'There is no improper relationship'

Ramaphosa says he then, in September 2018, first became aware of Andile's dealings with AGO.

"I had no reason to believe there was anything untoward about the relationship," Ramaphosa said.

When he appeared before Parliament on November 6 last year, Ramaphosa said he was still under the impression that the payment related to Blue Crane's advisory mandate.

On November 8, once he became aware that the amount had been paid by Watson into the CR17 attorney's trust account, Ramaphosa wrote to Mbete informing her that he had "inadvertently provided incorrect information" to the House on November 6.

"I directed my staff to make public my explanation to the Speaker… in a media release."

Ramaphosa states that attempts to repay the money to Watson have so far been unsuccessful and that it had, for the time being, been transferred to a trust account for repayment or to be passed on to the relevant government authorities, or donated to charity.

"There is no improper relationship between me and my family on the one side, and AGO on the other side.

"I wish to reiterate that… I have discouraged my children from conducting business with government or with any state-owned entities.

"I have told them that, if I became aware of any illegality or corruption in their business activities, I will be the first to report them to the authorities."

The full statement will be published once it becomes available.

Read more on:    bosasa  |  parliament  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  politics  |  governance  |  state capture  |  corruption

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