Friday, 23 August 2019

Cape Town: President Cyril Ramaphosa says the CR17 campaign was a legitimate, forward-looking and necessary effort to promote the renewal of the governing party and broader society, undertaken under difficult conditions.

The President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

“In its funding and activities, there was no wrongdoing, no criminality and no abuse of public funds or resources.

“Those who contributed to the campaign – whether as organisers, volunteers, as members of the ANC, as service providers or donors, including myself – did so out of a genuine concern for the future of the country.”

The President said following the release of the Public Protector’s report into allegations against him, there has been much interest in the country about the funding and operations of the CR17 campaign.

He reiterated that the Public Protector’s report is currently being taken on urgent judicial review and the courts will make a determination on the matter.

“Some people have used this opportunity – quite correctly in my view – to debate the issue of political funding. This is an important debate that needs to ensue in our country.

“I have also initiated discussion within the political party that I lead about the running of internal political leadership contests. I initiated that discussion in the last NEC [of the ANC] where I said this whole matter has brought to the fore a question we need to address as a political party.

“But others have a more sinister agenda, using leaked information selectively to undermine the positive changes that have been brought about in this country since the ANC’s 54th National Conference.”

President Ramaphosa said if there were members of the executive who were part of the campaign and were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members exercising their democratic and Constitutional right.

“In this regard, they owe no apology for what they did. What they did is a matter between themselves and their party; just 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 within the ANC.

“As things currently stand, therefore, there are no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests,” said the President.

He said the matter is now before the courts.

“It is a matter that is going to be dealt with by our courts. I want our courts to determine the extent to which declarations or disclosures may have been needed for internal party campaigning.

“… There [is no] provision for the disclosure of such information in the Executive Ethics Code or in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members.”

The President said the Political Party Funding Act, which he signed into law earlier this year, does regulate public and private funding of political parties and requires disclosure of donations accepted.

“While this Act does not extend to the funding of internal party leadership contests, this is perhaps the appropriate time for this House to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be disclosed and regulated.

“Do we want internal party political contests from the governing party to the smallest party to be regulated so that there will be disclosure?”

The President suggested that this Parliament take responsibility for ensuring that the same standards of accountability and transparency are applied to all parties and leaders.

No reason to establish new commission of inquiry

President Cyril Ramaphosa says there is no reason to establish a new inquiry to investigate allegations of corruption levelled against Bosasa.

The President was responding to a question by opposition leader Mmusi Maimane during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Maimane had asked President Ramaphosa whether he intends to institute a full-scale independent inquiry – headed by a retired judge to be selected by the Chief Justice – to further investigate all allegations of State capture that involve Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations, following the revelations made in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State capture.

“It is a matter of public record that the commission is indeed investigating various allegations with respect to Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations.

“I have already deposed an affidavit to the commission regarding any contact or dealings I may have had with persons who have either appeared before the commission or have been named at the commission in one form or another.

“I have also said that I would be willing to appear before the commission at any time that the commission would want to hear me on any matter that may assist them in their work.

“There is therefore absolutely no reason to establish a new inquiry to investigate a matter that is already being investigated by a sitting Commission of Inquiry,” he said.

The President said the commission, which former President Jacob Zuma appointed in January last year to investigate allegations of State capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector, was equipped through its terms of reference to probe the allegations that Maimane raised in his question.

According to its terms of reference, among other things, the commission shall inquire into, make findings, report on and make recommendations concerning the nature and extent of corruption, if any, in the awarding of contracts and tenders to companies, business entities or organisations by government departments, agencies and entities.

In particular, whether any member of the national executive, including the President, public official or functionary of any organ of State influenced the awarding of tenders to benefit themselves, their families or entities in which they held a personal interest.

President Ramaphosa said it should be obvious from the existing terms of reference that the Commission of Inquiry into State capture has both the mandate and the authority to investigate the matters which Maimane raised.

“As a country, and as leaders, we should direct our efforts towards supporting the Zondo Commission of Inquiry and urging all those with information relevant to its mandate to make themselves available to the commission.

“We need also to support and equip the National Prosecuting Authority to pursue investigations and prosecutions where there is evidence of criminality.” said the President.