ConCourt: President Ramaphosa did not use his power to benefit himself or son

In its judgment handed down on Thursday, the court also found that investigating internal party affairs fell beyond the scope of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s powers.

FILE: ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa at the party's 108th birthday celebration in Kimberley on 11 January 2020. Picture: ANC/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa did not wilfully mislead Parliament about donations to his campaign for the presidency of the African National Congress (ANC), the Constitutional Court has found.

In its judgment handed down on Thursday, the court also found that investigating internal party affairs fell beyond the scope of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s powers.

It has also found that he did not use his position to enrich either himself or his son, Andile, and that no money-laundering was involved with the R500,000 donated to his campaign by Gavin Watson, the late CEO of Bosasa – now operating as African Global Operations.

In a majority judgment handed down on Thursday morning, the Constitutional Court also found that Mkhwebane misrepresented the terms of the executive code of ethics, which governs the conduct of Cabinet members, among others.

Justice Chris Jafta said Mkhwebane was wrong to find that Ramaphosa both “wilfully and inadvertently” misled Parliament, as it had to be one or the other.

“Therefore the Public Protector was wrong on the facts and the law, with regard to the issue whether the president had wilfully misled Parliament - and the High Court was right to set aside her finding.”

Mkhwebane had concluded that Ramaphosa violated the executive code of ethics by exposing himself to a possible conflict between his office and his private interests - or used his position to enrich himself and his son Andile.

“There is no evidence supporting this finding.” Jafta said neither Ramaphosa nor his son knew anything about the half a million rand donation to his campaign from Watson.

The court also dealt with Mkhwebane’s suspicions of money-laundering.

“But the evidence placed before her dispelled all this – the donation passed through only one account, and not several intermediaries (as claimed by Mkhwebane).”

In addition, neither the Constitution nor the Public Protector Act allowed for Mkhwebane to investigate the private affairs of political parties.

“Political parties do not perform a public function or exercise a public power when they conduct internal elections – theirs is a private affair and not a state affair.”

In a dissenting judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Ramaphosa should have disclosed CR17 campaign donations to Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Presidency issued a statement that Ramaphosa welcomed and respected the ruling by the Constitutional Court.

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