Cyril Ramaphosa to Zondo Commission: My CR17 campaign did not cost a billion rand

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  • President Cyril Ramaphosa said his campaign for the party presidency raised about R300 million, but he added that he did not know the exact amount.
  • Ramaphosa told the State Capture Inquiry that instead of buying votes, he would rather have withdrawn from the race .
  • He also said the practice among members of paying "levies" to the party was widespread.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied claims that his presidential campaign in 2017 cost R1 billion rand and said it was closer to R300 million, although he didn't know the exact amount.

He also said he would rather have withdrawn from the race than allowed his team to "buy" ANC votes – a reference to allegations that candidates would give money, take-away food and plush hotel rooms to delegates who promised them their votes at conferences.

Ramaphosa was questioned about party political funding as well as the funding for his CR17 campaign for the party presidency at the State Capture Inquiry on Thursday morning during his second and final day of testimony as ANC president. He will testify again in May as the president of the country.

Evidence leader Paul Pretorius wanted to know why the party accepted money for its campaigns and why Ramaphosa's campaign accepted money from a company when it was known that the company was involved in large-scale corruption.

He said he and his campaign team took a "conscious decision" not to involve him in fundraising so that he wouldn't know who contributed to his campaign, but he also admitted to having met some of these individuals at fundraising dinners he held. 

"They almost wanted to create a wall so that those who gave money should never really think there is anything they could get in return," he said.

He added:

There is a legend that is going around that the money was used to buy votes. I said to my comrades I don't want to be part of any campaign that descends into any of these behaviours that we talk about in the ANC. I said I would ... leave the race, rather than have votes bought.

Ramaphosa stuck to the version he gave in an answering affidavit he filed in a case the EFF lodged for the unsealing of the court record in his High Court battle with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. It contains details of his funders and campaign members.

He said the money was used for transport, to hire venues and for "meetings, bussing people, feeding people and having T-shirts and caps".

He said, however, that his donors wanted to remain anonymous.

Ramaphosa vowed that his campaign managers were "so methodical, they recorded everything in black and white".

He added that he was surprised that things had become so expensive in campaigns.

Ramaphosa also spoke about allegations two diplomats submitted to the State Capture Inquiry that they received debit forms after they were appointed so that they could give money to the ANC.

READ | There was a delay in ANC acting on allegations of state capture - Ramaphosa tells inquiry

He said when he was a businessman, he gave R10 000 to R15 000 a month to the ANC through a debit form. It was common practice in the party as a means of raising money from members according to their means, he said.

He solicited money from members this way when he was the party's secretary-general in the early 1990s.

However, he said that if the party expected non-members to contribute, he would question it.

"Those who become known, who are active in places where the ANC  knows you are getting a salary – whether you're representing the ANC in the legislature, local government - we pay levies to the ANC," he said.

He also implied that the CEOs of state-owned entities and ordinary ANC members who had businesses or who were drawing a salary, were expected to sign levy forms.

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