Busi Mkhwebane finds Ramaphosa in breach of parliament's ethics code

Public protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

President Cyril Ramaphosa failed to disclose a donation from Bosasa and is therefore in breach of the Executive Ethics Code and Disclosure of Members’ Interests, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane revealed on Friday.

Mkhwebane said  National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise must, within 30 days of receipt of her report, refer Ramaphosa to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests for consideration.

According to Mkhwebane, Ramaphosa breached the Executive Ethics Code and Disclosure of Members’ Interest when he failed to declare that African Global Operation (AGO), formerly Bosasa, sponsored his campaign to become ANC president. Mkhwebane said  by accepting donations from Bosasa, Ramaphosa exposed himself and his office to a risk of conflict between his official duties and his private interest, and that the allegation that he used his position as then deputy president to enrich himself and his son through businesses owned by AGO were substantiated.

 “In light of the evidence before me, it can be safely concluded that the campaign pledges towards the CR17 campaign were some form of sponsorship, and that they were direct financial  sponsorship or assistance from non-party sources other than family member or permanent companion, and were therefore benefits of a material nature to President Ramaphosa,” Mkhwebane said.

 Ramaphosa had previously said that he was not directly involved in the funding of his campaign and that people who were involved did not disclose who the donors were. Mkhwebane said whether Ramaphosa knew or not was immaterial and referred to former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla case in which he argued that he was not directly involved in the upgrades at his house.

The Public Protector said she believed Ramaphosa was actually aware who his sponsors were as she has proof that the President had previously addressed a dinner function that he hosted at which the donors were present.   

Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa was “duty-bound" to declare “such financial benefit accruing to him” from his presidential campaign. “Failure to disclose the said material benefits, including a donation from AGO, constitute a breach of the code,” Mkhwebane’s probe found.

 Mkhwebane also ordered Modise to demand publication of all donations received by Ramaphosa towards his presidential campaign because “he was the then deputy president, he is bound to declare such financial interests into the members’ registrable interests register in the spirit of accountability and transparency”.

 She said she was also in possession of evidence that some of the monies donated to his presidential campaign were also transferred to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation account “from where it was also transferred to other beneficiaries”. 

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