President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office on Wednesday confirmed he had received a notice from Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane informing him that he had been implicated in her investigation into the R500 000 his campaign received from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson. In terms of the section 7(9) notice, issued in terms of the Public Protector Act, Ramaphosa has 10 days to respond to Mkhwebane’s report.
Former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter has confirmed that Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson paid President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son from his personal account.
Venter, who is testifying at the state capture inquiry, says he was instructed by Watson to deposit R500, 000 into the Andile Ramaphosa’s foundation trust.
The payment was allegedly made when Ramaphosa was the country’s deputy president.
“R500,000 was paid to EFG2 for Absa bank account. I was merely told it was for a foundation trust of Andile Ramaphosa, the son of Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa. I found this strange, but wouldn’t dare question Mr Gavin Watson.”
Venter says he didn’t ask any questions because he feared Watson.
The ‘Sunday Independent’ reported that Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa guilty of inadvertently misleading Parliament about his R500,000 campaign donation from Bosasa in her leaked preliminary report.
“In fact, table a report on my complaint on President Ramaphosa and his son and whether President Ramaphosa misled Parliament or not. I, therefore, urge that she urgently tables that report as a complainant, I deserve to get the report to ensure accountability.”
Venter said he effected the R500,000 payment to “efg2”, which used an ABSA bank account. He was “merely told it was for a foundation/trust of Andile Ramaphosa”. Ramaphosa was deputy to then president Jacob Zuma at the time.
“I found this strange but wouldn’t dare question Mr Watson,” Venter told the commission.
Venter said he did not know what the R500,000 payment was for and that he had been surprised when Andile Ramaphosa’s name was mentioned “because I wasn’t aware of what the relationship was; why would Mr Watson make a payment to” Ramaphosa’s son?
Venter told the commission that the R500,000 came from Watson’s personal account into Miotto and was then transferred to beneficiary “efg2”.
Venter said Watson had told him the payment was for Andile Ramaphosa and offered no other information.
Former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter says he was instructed by Gavin Watson to deposit R500, 000 into the Andile Ramaphosa’s foundation trust.
RELEASE REPORT OF BOSASA
The Democratic Alliance is asking the Public Protector to release a report into a Bosasa donation to President Cyril Ramaphosa
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has raised concerns about weekend newspapers reports about the a leaked document. According to the leaked document, the Public Protector claims that she has found President Cyril Ramaphosa guilty of accidentally misleading Parliament over the 500-thousand Bosasa donation to his election campaign for the presidency of the ANC. Now for analysis on the reported leaked report, we are now joined Skype by Phephelaphi Dube, a constitutional law analyst.
BOSASA AND RAMAPHOSA
This week saw President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son Andile coming clean about receiving R2-million from controversial company Bosasa.
“The president has written back to Advocate Mkhwebane.
He’s requested an extension of the ten-day period but also elected to exercise his entitlement to question firstly the complainant, Mr [Mmusi] Maimane and several other witnesses that would have appeared before the Public Protector during the course of this investigation,” Presidency spokeswoman Khusela Diko said.
“It’s important to reiterate that president Ramaphosa remains fully committed to cooperating with the Public Protector in the course of her investigation and he trusts that this matter will soon be brought to finality.”
At the weekend, the Sunday Independent reported that the leaked preliminary report by Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa had violated the Constitution and breached the Executive Ethics Act when he had “inadvertently” misled Parliament last year by failing to declare that his campaign to become ANC president had received the half a million rand donation from Watson.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found President Cyril Ramaphosa guilty of “inadvertently misleading” Parliament and failing to declare a R500 000 donation from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson to his ANC presidential campaign in 2017.
In her preliminary report submitted to Ramaphosa last Thursday – seen by Sunday Independent courtesy of one of the president’s confidants – Mkhwebane said the president violated the constitution and the executive code of ethics.
Mkhwebane added that Ramaphosa may have been involved in money-laundering since Watson’s donation had been made through several intermediaries.
The complaint of money laundering and violation of the ethics code was lodged by DA leader Mmusi Maimane. EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu later filed further complaints.
The public protector’s findings indicate that the donation was transferred from Watson’s personal account into the account of Miotto Trading, a company owned by Margaret Longworth, a sister of Bosasa’s former auditor Peet Venter, and then into the CR17 Attorneys Trust Account, managed by Edelsten, Faber and Grobbler (EFG) Attorneys.
Mkhwebane says Ramaphosa may have breached the executive code of ethics by exposing himself to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between his official responsibilities and private interests and that he acted in a way inconsistent with his position.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said: “We cannot comment on leaked documents purported to be the public protector’s report.”
On Saturday, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said: “The Presidency respects the office of the protector and remains committed to co-operating fully with the investigation. The Presidency would not wish to comment on any matter relating to the PP’s investigation.”
The report comes amid fights in the ANC over the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank, as well as news that the GDP contracted by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019.
Mkhwebane gave Ramaphosa 10 working days to comment on the draft report at a meeting held at Mahlambandlopfu, the president’s official residence, in Pretoria on Thursday last week. Sunday Independent understands that the president responded on Friday.
Sources said when Mkhwebane met Ramaphosa, he was flanked by Diko, political advisor Steyn Speed, his legal advisor Khanya Jele and chief of staff Roshene Singh.
If Mkhwebane’s preliminary findings are made final, Ramaphosa would be the first South African president found to have lied to Parliament by the public protector.
Ramaphosa’s problem started when he responded to DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s parliamentary question late last year and said Watson’s R500 000 had been paid to his son, Andile Ramaphosa, for consultancy fees rendered to African Global Operations, formerly known as Bosasa.
However, 10 days later, Ramaphosa made an about-turn and said in a letter sent to then-speaker Baleka Mbete that the money had indeed been a donation to his ANC presidential campaign.
Bosasa was implicated at the state capture commission headed by Justice Raymond Zondo for allegedly bribing ANC politicians and other government officials in exchange for billions of rands worth of state contracts.
The public protector probed the following complaints from Maimane and Shivambu:
Whether on November 6, 2018, during questions in Parliament, Ramaphosa deliberately misled the National Assembly and thereby acted in violation of the Executive Ethics Code and Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for the National Assembly and Permanent Council Members;
Whether there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on the one side, and the company African Global Operations on the other side due to the nature of the R500 000 payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight-forward donation to the CR17 campaign and thus raising suspicion of money laundering;
Whether President Ramaphosa improperly and in violation of the provisions of the Executive Ethics Code and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for the National Assembly and Permanent Council Members exposed himself to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between official duties and his private interest or used his position to enrich himself and his son through businesses owned by AGO.
On the first count, Mkhwebane found that although Maimane’s follow-up question did not meet parliamentary rules since it was not submitted to the speaker beforehand, Ramaphosa “inadvertently deliberately misled Parliament, in that he should (have) allowed himself sufficient time to research on a well-informed response”.
She said even though Ramaphosa’s conduct was in good faith, it was “inconsistent with his office as a member of cabinet and in violation of the constitution”.
Ramaphosa had told Mkhwebane that he had felt the need to respond to what he believed was “an attack on his integrity” by Maimane which appeared “in the heat of the moment”.
Mkhwebane also found that Ramaphosa, as the deputy president, was duty-bound to declare the financial benefit that accrued to him during the ANC presidential campaign.
In his submission, Ramaphosa had contended that there was a distinction between donations made towards a campaign fund for a political party’s elective conference and gifts and benefits received by “members” in their official capacity or in an attempt to influence members in the performance of their official duties.
“I submit that the donation was not in return for any benefit received by myself in my official capacity, nor was it in order to influence me in the performance of my duties. Instead the donation was received to support an internal party election,” Ramaphosa told the public protector.
However, Mkhwebane found that the campaign pledges were some form of direct financial sponsorship and therefore benefits of a material nature.
She claims in her report that she has evidence which indicates that some of the R200 million collected for the president’s campaign was transferred into the Ramaphosa Trust Foundation bank account.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Wednesday said President Cyril Ramaphosa must make public his statement that he had agreed to submit to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her investigation into the R500 000 donation paid by Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson.
“[The] DA notes reports that President Ramaphosa will be voluntarily submitting a statement to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, pertaining to her investigation into whether the president misled Parliament about a R500 000 ‘donation’ from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson,” said Maimane in a statement.
“In the interests of full transparency, the president should play open cards with the people of South Africa and make public his statement. South Africans must be fully assured that the President is not applying any undue pressure, or trying to influence a sensitive investigation into allegations of wrongdoing on his part.”
On Tuesday, the Presidency confirmed in a statement that Ramaphosa would meet with Mkhwebane following a complaint made to her office alleging that the president violated the Executive Ethics Code by deliberately misleading Parliament about the donation and requesting an investigation into whether there was an improper relationship between the president and Bosasa.
Maimane said the allegations against the Ramaphosa were “serious” as he appeared to have lied to Parliament about receiving a R500 000 “donation” from a company that has allegedly been bribing African National Congress (ANC) officials for the better part of two decades.
“Moreover, Ramaphosa told Parliament that his son, Andile Ramaphosa, does lucrative paid work for Bosasa. All of this appears no different to every other bribe Bosasa paid to ANC officials,” Maimane said.
“As the complainant in the matter, I will be requesting a meeting with the Public Protector, in order to submit evidence and receive a progress report into the matter. It is vital that this investigation is prioritised and receives the due consideration it deserves.”
Last year, Ramaphosa admitted that the R500 000 paid to his son by the company was a donation towards his ANC presidential campaign.
In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, the president backtracked on an earlier reply he gave in Parliament and said the money paid to his son was for payment for his consultancy services that he provided for Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations