Ramaphosa seeks review of “flawed” Public Protector report

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will seek an urgent judicial review of what he described as an irretrievably flawed report in which the country’s graft watchdog said he misled parliament over a campaign donation.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report followed an investigation by the watchdog into a R500,000 donation to Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) from the CEO of services company Bosasa.

Ramaphosa said the report’s findings were not rational, based in fact or arrived at through a fair and impartial process – assertions Mkhwebane refutes – and he would seek a judicial review of it, its conclusions and the remedial action recommended.

“After careful study, I concluded the report is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed,” Ramaphosa told a media briefing, adding  it was appropriate the courts make a final and impartial judgment on the matter.

A statement issued on Mkhwebane’s behalf said she welcomes the president’s decision but stands by the report and will seek to assist the courts in arriving at the “correct conclusion”.

“She has no doubt she exercised her powers and performed her functions without fear, favour or prejudice, as required by the constitution,” the statement said.

Mkhwebane, who began the investigation after a complaint from South Africa’s opposition, on Friday said she found the president “deliberately misled” parliament and violated the executive ethics code in regard to the donation.

The saga is a headache for Ramaphosa, who staked his reputation on cleaning up deep-rooted corruption and reviving Africa’s most developed economy, providing ammunition for enemies including an ANC faction loyal to his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa initially told parliament the money received by his son Andile was obtained for services provided, but he later corrected this by saying the payment was actually a donation to his campaign.

The remedial actions Mkhwebane recommended included the speaker of the national assembly to demand publication, within 30 days of receiving the report, of all donations received by Ramaphosa.

She also instructed the chief prosecutor to investigate whether Ramaphosa’s campaign laundered money in handling donations.

Ramaphosa supporters accuse her of acting as a proxy for Zuma’s faction, which she denied.