South Africa: Court clears Ramaphosa of misleading parliament about donations

On Thursday, South Africa’s top court upheld an earlier finding that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not intentionally mislead lawmakers about donations to his 2017 campaign to lead the ruling party.

The Public Protector, an anti-graft watchdog, was dissatisfied with a high court judgement last year that determined Ramaphosa did not intentionally mislead parliament about fundraising and donations, as alleged. Among them was a deposit of 500,000 rand into Ramaphosa’s son Andile’s account.

The case has been characterized as a proxy war between two factions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), one of which supports Ramaphosa and the other of which supports former President Jacob Zuma, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Tuesday for failing to appear at a corruption investigation.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Public Protector, is accused of being tied to Zuma’s side, which she denies. 

In 2018, Ramaphosa deposed Zuma as party leader, and Zuma has subsequently been the focus of many corruption probes.

Bunnaj Africa learnt that Mkhwebane had also alleged in her 2019 report that there was prima facie evidence of money laundering involving millions of rands in the campaign to succeed Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa denied this when he sought a legal review of her report, winning the case in the high court last year.

Mkhwebane’s challenge against that verdict was dismissed by the constitutional court on Thursday.

“The Public Protector was wrong on the facts … with regard to the issue whether the president had wilfully misled parliament and the high court was right to set aside her findings,” judge Chris Jafta said.

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