Sealed CR17 records create fertile ground for corruption, EFF argues in court papers | News24


President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

  • The EFF has approached the High Court to unseal CR17 documents.
  • EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini argues CR17 campaign private funding is fertile ground for the capture of President Cyril Ramaphosa. 
  • Ramaphosa had CR17 documents sealed in a court battle against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. 
  • Mkhwebane found Ramaphosa had misled Parliament about a donation to his ANC presidential campaign from Gavin Watson. 

The sealing of the CR17 documents creates a fertile ground for the continuation of corruption, the EFF has argued in its application to the High Court in Pretoria. 

EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini said the secrecy of CR17 campaign private funding also fostered fertile ground for the capture of President Cyril Ramaphosa, compromising his ability to independently fulfill his constitutional obligations. 

The EFF filed its application on Tuesday.

The party has been calling for the unsealing of Ramaphosa’s ANC documents since 2019 after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report on Bosasa. 

She found Ramaphosa had “misled” Parliament about the source of a R500 000 donation from controversial businessman Gavin Watson through Bosasa.

Ramaphosa has maintained he was not directly involved in the fundraising efforts of his presidential campaign in 2017.

However, a leaked email exposé by News24 found Ramaphosa had personally typed a note to what was believed to be his banker, instructing the transfer of R20 million from a money market account (believed to belong to Ramaphosa) to an account belonging to the Ria Tenda Trust.

READ | Exclusive leaked emails reveal who Ramaphosas CR17 campaign asked for money

In his affidavit, Dlamini said clandestine and secret funding, direct or not, of public officers limited another political party’s ability to hold such office bearers to account should such funding be made on a quid pro quo basis. 

“By way of illustration, it is now common cause and a matter of public knowledge that one of the funders of the CR17 campaign is one Mr Kevin Watson. Through his company, Bosasa, the evidence emanating from the state capture commission is that Watson unlawfully paid and advanced favours to public officials in expression of government favours in return.

“There is evidence that this has materialised on a number of occasions, this is the so-called concept of prepaid office bearers,” Dlamini said. 

He added the EFF prayed the records be unsealed by the High Court because transparency in the area of private funding of political parties and independent candidates helped in the detection and discouragement of improper influence and the fight against corruption.

“It is worth noting that the question before the court is not whether the first respondent is corrupt or corruptible, the point is more nuanced and one of principle,” he argued, adding unwarranted secrecy in the courts undermined the public’s faith in the civil justice system and allowed private litigants to hijack the court system for their own end.

READ | Exclusive inside the CR17 leaks and the conflict between Ramaphosas man and security head

In his application for documents to be sealed last year, Ramaphosa suggested some of the bank statements might have been obtained unlawfully.Four bank accounts were noted by Ramaphosa’s lawyers, including his own foundation’s account and, the EFG2 account, which housed his ANC presidential campaign funds.The other accounts are Linked Environmental Services and Ria Tenda Trust.

In her report, the Public Protector also found just more than R191 million was transferred into the CR17 account between December 2016 and January 2018.

Around the same amount was transferred out of the account during the same period, Mkhwebane said.

She added three amounts of around R31 million, R39 million, and more than R51 million were transferred by the same donor into the CR17 account.

“In conclusion, on the above revelations relating to the exchanges of large sums of money, some of which [was] received from private companies, I wish to express my preliminary view that such a scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these monies to the campaign,” Mkhwebane said.

Ramaphosa then decided to take her report, in which it was found he had violated the executive code of ethics, on urgent judicial review.

Dlamini argued: “… the first respondent [Ramaphosa], through his legal representatives, stated that he sought the sealing of the documents for the benefit of unidentified third parties. In other words, the first respondent has no personal right to assert the ceiling nor does he have authority to act on behalf of such unidentified third parties. Accordingly, the confidentiality claim cannot stand nor can the first respondent persist with the request to have the sealed documents remain sealed.”

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