EDITORIAL: Not illegal, but Ramaphosa should play open cards about CR17 funds

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Gallo Images/Sowetan/Esa Alexander)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Gallo Images/Sowetan/Esa Alexander)

They say there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Even more so in the case of political fundraising, where donors ultimately enable a candidate to triumph and implement his or her policies to benefit certain agendas. 

Globally, political party and candidate funding is a topic of much scrutiny and in South Africa the tide is turning away from secrecy to open declaration.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's successful campaign to become ANC president in December 2017 was built on a "new dawn" agenda: away from the corrupt years of Jacob Zuma into a future of good governance, economic growth and job creation. Ramaphosa ran a good campaign and it was refreshing to see an ANC leader triumph, who vocally committed himself to the values of the Constitution, away from the state capture years where institutions and democracy were weakened.

ALSO READEXCLUSIVE: Leaked emails reveal who Ramaphosa's CR17 campaign asked for money

Ramaphosa should boldly carry this torch of transparency and honesty if he wants to keep the majority of South Africans on his side. 

This also applies to his campaign funding. The decision to publish details of the leaked emails between Ramaphosa and his campaign manager wasn't made flippantly. 

After we confirmed their authenticity, the only question remaining was whether there is overwhelming public interest to publish details of his campaign funders, even if there are questions about how the emails were obtained. 

The answer must be yes. As we are still coming to grips with the full extent of state capture in the Zuma years, it is critical that we interrogate not only those in power, but those behind them who got them there. 

Ramaphosa is not above scrutiny and it would be naïve to think that everyone who contributed to his campaign had his best intentions at heart, Gavin Watson being a prime example. 

It is now clear that the president was involved in fundraising for his campaign and knew the names of at least some of his donors. He should take the country into his confidence on how CR17 operated and not leave it to his detractors to do it for him.

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