‘He wants to rule from the grave’ – Ntshavheni slams Mogoeng’s ‘no free lunch’ CR17 comments
The former chief justice insists Ramaphosa should have disclosed his CR17 donors.
Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)
Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says that public office bearers in all arms of the state must regularly explain how they have fulfilled the promises inherent in the offices they occupy. According to Mogoeng, the objective is to address underperformance and prevent the abuse of public power and resources.
The former chief justice delivered the 2023 SAFM inaugural lecture at the SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, posing tough questions for President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding his CR17 campaign.
Despite several court attempts to expose them, bank records related to Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign remain sealed.
Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba sealed the campaign’s financial records in August 2019 after Ramaphosa argued they were illegally obtained by ousted public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during her investigations.
Mkhwebane estimated the campaign raised at least R1 billion.
No free lunch
Mogoeng said the possibilities of ensuring accountability, responsiveness and openness in public office bearers lay largely with how they ascend high positions in a political party and by extension, to the highest offices on the political arms of the state.
He stressed the importance of the public knowing their political leaders’ funders, stating that this could inform the leaders’ decisions.
“Who facilitates a politician’s upward mobility is a question that must necessarily and seriously exercise our minds, for the biting truth is, there is no free lunch in this world,” he said.
“Private funding of individuals in political parties and political parties themselves is in my view an investment that is expected to yield very handsome returns as soon as beneficiaries thereof rise to positions of sufficient authority to deal out favours and tenders.”
Mogoeng recalled his minority judgment in the R500,000 Gavin Watson donation case, where he advocated transparency and accountability.
It reads in part: “When people or entities other than the then deputy president’s party gave him sponsorship of financial assistance for the purpose of realising his ultimate dream, he was by accepting help or allowing others to accept help on his behalf, exposing himself to situation involving the risk of conflict.
“For that sponsorship or financial assistance to help him rise to the highest political office is most likely to induce a favourable disposition towards those who stood by him when help was solely needed. That is what the risk of conflict sought to be averted through these legal instruments or the duty to disclose entails.
“The reality is, private funders do not just thoughtlessly throw their resources around, they do so for a reason and strategically. Some pour their resources because of the policies of a particular party or candidate resonates with their world outlook or ideology. Others do so hoping to influence the policy direction of those they support to advance personal and sectional interests.
“Money is the tool they use to secure special favours or selfishly manipulate those who are required to serve and treat all citizens equally.”
Ramaphosa had duty to know
Addressing Ramaphosa’s claim of ignorance regarding the CR17 campaign activities, Mogoeng asserted that the president had a duty to know who was funding his campaign.
He asked: “Why would anybody not want to know who is helping them, and how reasonably practical is that anyway and why would they want their benefactors unknown to parliament or the public?”
“The president had the duty to know if he did not know already who was funding his campaign and to disclose that personal benefit compositely as a benefit from the CR17 campaign as an entity or more appropriately from each donor with a specified amount so that parliament and the public could know who was helping or had helped him to perform better than his competitors and enabled him to become ANC president and a few months later, president of the republic.”
This, according to Mogoeng, would help the public check whether the financial support had compromised his constitutional obligations.
“Our freely elected representatives cannot help build a free society if they are not themselves free of hidden potential bondage or captivation,” he said.
Mogoeng ‘commenting from grave’
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni slammed Mogoeng for his comments, calling them “unfortunate”.
“They [comments] are unfortunate because he had a minority judgment on that. It is unfortunate that he wants to rule from the grave and wants to comment from the grave,” she said.