President Cyril Ramaphosa has come to the defence of ministers and deputy ministers who have been under fire for money received by them during his election campaign. He says they owe no one an apology for their contribution.
The president is also adamant that the “CR17” money did not come from proceeds of crime or any other untoward sources.
Ramaphosa is answering questions in the National Assembly this afternoon amid a hot debate around the use and movement of money in the campaign that propelled him to the top job in the ANC and ultimately the country.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, deputy ministers Thembi Siweya, Zizi Kodwa, Fikile Mbalula and MP Bernice Swarts were all alleged to have received money from the CR17 campaign in their personal capacities or through companies that they own.
The matter stems from a question initially posed to the president by DA leader Mmusi Maimane in a question and answer session of the National Assembly last year around money given to Ramaphosa by a company formerly known as Bosasa. Maimane subsequently lodged a complaint with the Public Protector, who found that the president misled Parliament when he responded to Maimane and recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority investigate the CR17 campaign for money laundering.
“Others now have a more sinister agenda, using leaked information to selectively undermine the positive changes which have been bought about in our country since the 54th national conference. I need to say the CR17 campaign was a legitimate, forward-looking and necessary effort to promote the renewal of the governing party and broader society and it was undertaken under difficult conditions. In its funding and activities there was no wrongdoing, no criminality and no use of public funds or resources. It is important that we should know that.
“Those who contributed to the campaign as coordinators, organisers as volunteers, as members of the ANC as service providers indeed as donors of one sort or another – including myself – did so out of a genuine concern for the future of our country,” the president told the house.
“If there are members of the executive who were part of the campaign, who were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members, exercising their constitutional and democratic rights. In this regard let us be clear, they owe no apology for what they did. For what they did, that is a matter between them and their party. As it is a matter between myself as president of the ANC and my party. It is for that reason that I have initiated that discussion in the ANC. As things stand, there are no rules in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party contest. I am not aware of them. This matter is now before our courts. It is a matter that will be discussed, the extent to which declarations need to be made for internal party political campaigning. We will wait for the determination of the courts in that regard.”
He added that he was pleased with the debate that has been taking place over the regulation of internal party campaigning which started as a result of his woes.
He also expressed regret that two Economic Freedom Fighters members of Parliament – Tebogo Mokwele and Nkagisang Mokgosi – resigned after it was revealed that they received an amount of R80 000 each from the campaign.
Ramaphosa was responding to a question from EFF leader Julius Malema on how many more of his party leaders received funds from the CR17 campaign.
The president hailed the two EFF MPs as formidable opponents in the National Council of Provinces.
He said he regarded them as colleagues who approached the campaign in a time of need. He said they were assisted with no strings attached.