Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has until the end of this week to release a report on whether President Cyril Ramaphosa lied to parliament last year, or the Democratic Alliance (DA) will take action, the party says.
Yesterday, The Sunday Independent reported on a leaked version of a preliminary report on the matter which arose from a complaint by DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
The complaint alleged Ramaphosa knew about his son’s involvement in a R500,000 donation from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson to the ANC presidential campaign in 2017, when he told parliament last year that he had no knowledge of it.
According to the newspaper, Mkhwebane found the president guilty of “inadvertently misleading” parliament and failing to declare the donation from Bosasa.
The newspaper claimed the report included the bombshell that Ramaphosa and his campaign team might have been part of money laundering activities. This was because the donation from Watson went through a number of intermediary companies to reach them.
The presidency refused to comment. Ramaphosa’s response to the findings was reportedly delivered on Friday.
Maimane’s spokesperson, Azola Mboniswa, said the DA had not received the report after going to great pains to get an update from Mkhwebane as to why the investigation had taken more than six months to complete.
According to the Ethics Act, the public protector must investigate a complaint on an alleged breach of the code of ethics by a member of the National Assembly and submit a report within 30 days of receipt of the complaint.
“We have noted the leaked information reported in the Sunday papers. However, we are still waiting for formal communication from the public protector as to when the report is coming out so we can ultimately hold Ramaphosa accountable for his dealings with Bosasa,” said Mboniswa.
“Obviously, the leader has been in communication with the public protector earlier this year. And just before the election as well he held a meeting with Mkhwebane to try and get an update on the investigation. Unfortunately, Mkhwebane told us at the time that more things needed to be investigated.
“Last week, the public protector gave us an indication that the investigation was at an advanced stage, but she was not using an exact timeline as to when to expect the report, so we are still waiting – like many South Africans.”
According to Mboniswa, the party anticipated the report would be released this week, failing which it would consider its options on holding Mkhwebane to account.
“We are hoping it will be fasttracked as the week goes by, failing which we will have to consider our options.”
Mkhwebane’s office refused to comment on the report in the Sunday Independent. The fact that it was leaked, supposedly by a confidant of the president, concerned Mkhwebane, according to a statement from her office.
“Advocate Mkhwebane and her office will not comment on the contents of any news report or leaked document that purports to be hers as that could potentially jeopardise her investigations and prejudice the subjects of the probes,” her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said.
He said public protector reports were released officially by Mkhwebane to complainants, respondents and the public in terms of section 182(5) of the constitution, read with Section 8(1) and (3) of the Public Protector Act 23, 1994 (PPA).
“The attention of the public is hereby drawn to Section 7(2) of the PPA, which provides that: No person shall disclose to any other person the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the office of the public protector or the record of any evidence given before the public protector, deputy public protector or a person … during an investigation, unless the public protector determines otherwise.”