S.Africa's Ramaphosa seeks review of 'flawed' graft watchdog report

by Reuters
Sunday, 21 July 2019 19:13 GMT

(Adds detail and public protector comment)

By Emma Rumney

JOHANNESBURG, July 21 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he will seek an urgent judicial review of what he described as an irretrievably flawed report in which the country's graft watchdog said he misled parliament over a campaign donation.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report followed an investigation by the watchdog into a 500,000 rand ($35,878.56) donation to Ramaphosa's 2017 campaign for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) from the CEO of services company Bosasa.

Ramaphosa said the report's findings were not rational, based in fact or arrived at through a fair and impartial process - assertions Mkhwebane refutes - and that he would seek a judicial review of the report, its conclusions and the remedial action it recommended.

"After careful study, I have concluded that the report is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed," Ramaphosa told a media briefing, adding that it was therefore appropriate the courts make a final and impartial judgment on the matter.

A statement issued on Mkhwebane's behalf said she welcomes the president's decision but stands by the report and will seek to assist the courts in arriving at the "correct conclusion".

"She has no doubt that she exercised her powers and performed her functions without fear, favour or prejudice, as is required by the constitution," the statement said.

Mkhwebane, who began the investigation after a complaint from South Africa's opposition, on Friday said that she found the president had "deliberately misled" parliament and violated the executive ethics code in regards to the donation.

The saga has proven a headache for Ramaphosa, who has staked his reputation on cleaning up deep-rooted corruption and reviving Africa's most developed economy, providing ammunition for enemies including an ANC faction loyal to his predecessor Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa initially told parliament that the money received by his son Andile was obtained for services he had provided, but he later corrected this by saying the payment was actually a donation towards his campaign.

The remedial actions Mkhwebane recommended included the speaker of the national assembly to demand publication, within 30 days of receiving the report, of all donations received by Ramaphosa.

She also instructed the chief prosecutor to investigate whether Ramaphosa's campaign had laundered money in its handling of donations.

Ramaphosa's supporters accuse her of acting as a proxy for Zuma's faction, which she has denied. ($1 = 13.9359 rand) (Reporting by Emma Rumney Editing by David Goodman and Peter Graff)

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