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EFF to challenge 'ridiculous' court ruling dissolving Mkhwebane's findings on Ramaphosa

The EFF wants the Constitutional Court to review the ruling by the high court.
The EFF wants the Constitutional Court to review the ruling by the high court.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The EFF plans to challenge Tuesday's high court ruling that set aside findings by the public protector that President Cyril Ramaphosa misled parliament about a Bosasa donation for his 2017 ANC presidential campaign.

The party took a swipe at the court in a statement, describing the ruling as “ridiculous”.

“The Gauteng North high court ruling has also effectively rendered the oath of members of parliament futile, uprooting the respect this important arm of the state has. The finding that Ramaphosa did not mislead parliament is not only ridiculous, it exposes the court as an institution complicit in weakening parliament,” said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.

He said if the ruling was upheld, it would set a precedent for other members of the executive to not be held accountable for things they said in parliamentary sittings.

Ramaphosa asked the court to review and set aside Mkhwebane’s report on whether he benefited from the donation. His legal team argued that Mkhwebane had no jurisdiction to probe the campaign, 

Pambo argued that Ramaphosa had admitted to benefiting from Bosasa.

“Absolving him means there are laws for the rest of South Africans and laws for Ramaphosa. It is a direct violation of the foundation of our constitutional order: equality before the law. Equality before the law means Ramaphosa must be subjected to the same scrutiny that [former president Jacob] Zuma and many others faced when they violated the constitution, laws and rules of parliament,” he added.

Judge Elias Matojane delivered a scathing judgment against Mkhwebane, which essentially found she had no legal basis to make such a finding.

“We find [Mkhwebane] did not only commit a material misdirection in her legal approach [to the issue of misleading parliament], but also reached an irrational and unlawful conclusion on the facts before her,” Matojane said on behalf of a full bench of the high court.

The court agreed that she had no jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign. It also held that Ramaphosa was not under any obligation to disclose his campaign funding to parliament.

Pitted against the public protector in the court battle were Ramaphosa, speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise and national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi.                                    

Mkhwebane broadened the scope of her investigation to include a wider probe into the funding of Ramaphosa's campaign for the ANC presidency.

She concluded there was merit to allegations of money laundering, found Ramaphosa had violated the executive code of ethics and may have exposed himself to a conflict of interest in receiving certain donations.

Ramaphosa's legal team argued that Mkhwebane did not have jurisdiction to broaden the scope.

Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations, and its CEO, the late Gavin Watson, were frequently mentioned as having a corrupt relationship with the ANC-led government at the state capture inquiry.

Pambo stressed the importance of hearing the Constitutional Court’s stance on the matter.

“We seek to give the highest court in the land the opportunity to either correct the unreasonableness of the Gauteng North high court or join in obliterating the principles of equality before the law, transparency and accountability,” he said.

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