CR17 leaks part of 'sinister agenda' - Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Assembly. (Presidency via Twitter)
Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Assembly. (Presidency via Twitter)

While the debate about campaign funding is important, there's a "sinister agenda to undermine the positive changes" since he has become ANC president by leaking some of the funding information of his campaign to become his party's leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the National Assembly.

Responding to a question posed by EFF leader Julius Malema, Ramaphosa did not divulge further information on the "sinister agenda".

In his original question, Malema asked for the details of the funders he met at the various fundraising dinners held for the then-deputy president and his 2017 campaign for the ANC presidency.

"Honourable members, honourable speaker, following the release of the Public Protector's report into allegations into the president, there has been much interest in the country about the funding and the operation of what I would call the CR17 campaign," Ramaphosa said.

READ: Public Protector's 'counsel' helps Ramaphosa dodge Bosasa question

"Just call it Cy-ruption!" DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis interjected.

Ramaphosa said the Public Protector's report on the donation he had received from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson was currently under judicial review.

"And some people have used this opportunity, quite correctly in my view, to debate the issue of political funding. And this is an important debate that needs to ensue in our country."

He said he had initiated a discussion on the matter in the ANC at its last national executive committee meeting.

"But others have a more sinister agenda, using leaked information selectively to undermine the positive changes that have been brought about in our country since the 54th national conference."

It was at that conference, on December 2017 at Nasrec, Johannesburg, where Ramaphosa was elected president of the ANC.

"Now, I need to say the CR17 campaign was a legitimate, forward looking and necessary effort to promote the renewal of the governing party and broader society and it was undertaken under difficult conditions.

"In its funding and its activities, there was no wrongdoing. Let me repeat, no wrongdoing, no criminality and no abuse of public funds or resources," he said to applause from the ANC benches.

"Those who have contributed to the campaign, whether as organisers, as volunteers, as members of the ANC, as service providers, or indeed as donors, of one sort or another, did so out of a genuine concern for the future of our country," Ramaphosa said.

"If there were members of the executive who were part of the campaign who were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members, exercising their democratic and constitutional right, and in this regard, let us be clear, they owe no apology for what they did.

"I'm sure that honourable Malema would agree that it would be unreasonable and potentially prejudicial to expect the disclosure of such information until such time as all candidates and all parties are held to the same requirements of disclosure and transparency."

Malema just shook his head.

ALSO READ: The ANC's R3m thank you letter to Bosasa

Ramaphosa said the Political Party Funding Act, which he signed into law earlier this year, regulated public and private funding of political parties and required disclosure of donations accepted but does not extend to the funding of internal party leadership contests.

"This is perhaps the appropriate time for this House to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be disclosed and regulated," Ramaphosa said.

Asking his follow-up question, Malema stated as president, Ramaphosa should be held to a higher standard.

"Why do you have a problem disclosing the names of people who made donations to you?" he asked.

Ramaphosa agreed transparency was absolutely necessary, adding his lawyers had asked the court to seal some documents, as it contained bank statements.

ALSO READ: We will run a 'clean shop' in our NHI Fund says Ramaphosa

"What got to us was just the confidentially of a number of people. You know bank accounts are very ... sensitive type of documents.

"They went as early as 2014 during a period when there was no campaign. That is why our lawyers felt it needed to be sealed.

"Let us allow this period of evaluating this whole process through the courts, and thereafter I will be able to take a view, and indeed be able to see how best we handle this situation. Because, indeed, I do want to uphold the principle of being transparent, of being straight and being honest. Indeed, even on this very difficult matter," Ramaphosa said.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was not impressed and rose to speak without being recognised by Speaker Thandi Modise.

He said Ramaphosa's non-disclosure was becoming toxic and infecting the whole country.

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