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An uphill battle: Mkhwebane tries to defend appeal on CR17 report judgment

The justices of the apex court have questioned the rationality of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report, which among others found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament when he initially denied knowledge of a donation from Bosasa.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on 22 July 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Public Protector’s lawyers are facing an uphill battle in the Constitutional Court as they try defending their appeal of an earlier judgment that set aside her damning report on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 fundraising.

The justices of the apex court have questioned the rationality of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report, which among others found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament when he initially denied knowledge of a donation from Bosasa.

ALSO READ: Mkhwebane has jurisdiction to probe Ramaphosa’s campaign funding, ConCourt told

Justice Rammaka Mathopo took issue with this part of the report, stating that the use of the word deliberate, interchangeably with other words, despite Ramaphosa having later corrected his initial submission, could lead to a wrong legal conclusion.

“The Public Protector is a lawyer and you are a lawyer and we know that those terms do not mean the same thing. If you talk about inadvertence, you are in another area. But if you talk about deliberate an intentional area.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has questioned whether the Public Protector has the right to direct other constitutional functionaries including the National Director of Public Prosecutions on what action to take against Ramaphosa.

“Are you saying there is an aspect of that particular remedial action that is admittedly wrong but not that remedial action in its entirety?”

Arguing for Mkhwebane, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane conceded that some issues in the report may have been conflated but insists this did not mean that the entire report should be painted with the same brush.

The High Court in Pretoria ruled that Mkhwebane wrongly conflated the office of the president with the CR17 campaign, which was a private matter.

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