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Public Protector nails Ramaphosa for misleading parliament

2019-07-19 17:35

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that President Cyril Ramaphosa had deliberately misled the National Assembly when he responded to a question posed to him by DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

The questions was whether his son, Andile Ramaphosa, had received money from African Global Operations (AGO) CEO Gavin Watson.

“I therefore find president Ramaphosa’s conduct as referred to above although ostensibly in good faith, to be inconsistent with his office a member of cabinet,” Mkhwebane said.

She explained that any funds the president received during his CR17 campaign were donations and therefore benefited him in a material nature. The Public Protector then explained that Ramaphosa was supposed to declare his financial interests because he was deputy president at the time.

According to Mkhwebane’s findings, there are valid grounds for suspicions of money laundering because the donation from AGO passed through several intermediaries.

“I am therefore of the view that there is merit to the allegation relating to the suspicion of money laundering as alluded to in the complaint lodged with my office,” she said.

Mkhwebane’s investigation stem from complaints by Maimane alleging that Ramaphosa had violated the Executive Code of Ethics. In parliament late last year, Ramaphosa said he was aware of the R500 000 his son had received from Ago, and said it was for consultancy work.

The president then backtracked in a letter to the National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, saying the money was a donation from Ago for his CR17 campaign.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament ahead of t
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Supplied/ Gallo Images/Sowetan/Esa Alexander

EFF deputy president, Floyd Shivambu lodged a complaint with the Public Protector and requested an investigation into whether Ramaphosa’s son did indeed have a contract with Ago. A whistleblower also came forward with a similar complaint to that of Maimane and Shivambu.

The Public Protector’s has asked the speaker of parliament to demand the publication of all Ramaphosa’s donors within 30 days.

She has also instructed the police commissioner to look into investigating Gavin Watson after he is alleged to have lied under oath.

The speaker must in 30 days refer the president’s violation of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure Members’ Interests to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members.

Modise must consider within her discretion deliberations by Members of Parliament in terms of the Rules of the National Assembly.

Mkhwenbane has instructed the National Director of Public Prosecutions to start conducting further investigations into allegations of money laundering uncovered during the investigations.

“Mr Watson in his response ostensibly stated that he has lied under oath while responding to questions posed to him, during his interview at my office on 18 March 2019,” she said.

During a briefing held by Maimane straight after the findings were released, he said the DA would be pursuing various avenues, to hold the president to account.

The party is looking to address the matter in parliament and has already written to the speaker.

“As the constitutional body empowered and mandated to maintain oversight over the Executive, Parliament must be at the forefront of this matter - as it was during the infamous Nkandla scandal,” the leader of the official opposition said.

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November 10 2019