#BosasaGate: Ad Hoc Committee must consider Public Protector’s “Ramaphosa Report”

19 Jul 2019 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes today’s release of the Public Protector’s report into President Ramaphosa’s dodgy dealings with Bosasa – a company that has spent the last 20 years bribing ANC politicians in order to secure lucrative government tenders and contracts.

In my initial complaint (attached here) to the Public Protector on 23 November 2018, I contended that in an oral question session in Parliament on 6 November 2018, President Ramaphosa deliberately misled the House about a suspicious R500 000 “donation” his CR17 campaign received from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson, and that a clear conflict of interest exists between the President, his son Andile Ramaphosa, and Bosasa. This as his son subsequently secured lucrative contracts with Bosasa to the tune of at least R2 million.

The Public Protector has today found that President Ramaphosa did in fact deliberately misled Parliament in relation to this suspicious R500 000 “donation”. Put simply, Ramaphosa took dodgy money from Bosasa and lied to Parliament and to the people of South Africa about it.

In addition to this, the Public Protector found that at the time when this “donation” was received, Ramaphosa was still Deputy President. Therefore, as Member of Parliament he was duty bound to disclose this donation and failed to do so in contravention of the Executive Ethics Code. In April this year, I viewed the President’s declaration of interests at the Union Buildings. Neither this donation, nor the conflict of interest between himself, his son, and Bosasa was declared.

The Public Protector also found serious financial irregularities and “prima facie evidence of money laundering” to which she has tasked the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shamila Batohi to investigate further.

Lastly, the Public Protector has given the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, 30 days to demand that President Ramaphosa make public all donations to his CR17 campaign as he was Deputy President of the country at the time.

What is clear is that this matter runs much deeper than initially thought. The Public Protector has only scratched the surface as it pertains to President Ramaphosa, Bosasa, and his son Andile’s business interests. This matter requires further consideration, and Parliament’s full attention.

As the constitutional body empowered and mandated to maintain oversight over the Executive, Parliament must be at the forefront of this matter – as it was during the infamous Nkandla scandal.

In the absence of a Standing Committee on the Presidency, we contend that the most appropriate way forward is the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to consider this report, its findings, and how to ensure the President and any other players are held to account.

We have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, in this regard, accompanied by the motion to be tabled before Parliament. This Ad Hoc Committee ought to:

  • Consider the report and its recommendations according to rule 253(3);
  • Summon the President, relevant officials and Ministers to account for the Bosasa scandal;
  • Deliberate and resolve to implement solutions to hold the President to account, and put recommendations forward to the National Assembly to consider; and
  • Move for urgent, necessary legislative amendments to existing legislation and regulations that deal with party funding.

In addition to this, we will be pursuing a range of additional avenues to hold the President and others to account.

Firstly, it appears that a criminal syndicate is being alluded to in the Public Protector’s report, and as such a criminal process must be pursued. The DA will be laying criminal charges of money laundering against Cyril Ramaphosa, the CR17 Campaign, and the attorneys trust account involved with the campaign. The report is replete with evidence to suggest Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign was marred with financial irregularities and possible money laundering.

This includes the Public Protector’s startling revelation whereby she alleges she is in possession of evidence indicating that “some of the money collected through the CR17 campaign trust account was also transferred into the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation account from where it was also transferred to other beneficiaries”.

While the Public Protector has tasked the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shamila Batohi to investigate this further, we will seek clarity on how the NPA will handle this matter, and whether it will be referred to the Hawks or the NPA’s new investigative directorate.

Secondly, in terms of the sanctions for misleading Parliament as contained in the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act, President Ramaphosa is liable to pay a fine, be imprisoned for a period of up to two years, or both. We will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, requesting that she lays a charge against the President in terms of this Act. It is her role as head of the National Assembly to ensure the President is held to account for committing an offence against Parliament.

Finally, if Mr Ramaphosa is duty bound to declare his financial benefits vis-à-vis his CR17 campaign, then it follows other presidential hopefuls, including Lindiwe Sisulu, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Baleka Mbete are required to do so as well. Therefore, the DA will pursue this matter in the Joint Ethics Committee in Parliament.

The Public Protector’s report finally shatters the myth of a “good ANC” and a “bad ANC”. There is only one ANC – corrupt to the core and taking South Africa backwards.

Accountability must be pursued regardless of who is in office. The rule of law is sacrosanct, and if the President believes he is innocent he must exercise his right to take the report on review.

It is high time that Presidents, and their families’ who abuse their power for personal gain are treated as equal before the law and held to account for their actions.