POLITICAL NEWS - The High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday is set to hear the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) application to unseal the financial records of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign, also known as the CR17 campaign.
The identities of Ramaphosa’s donors have been the subject of much public scrutiny from the EFF, which believes South Africans have a right to know who funded the president’s ANC internal campaign that ultimately paved the way for his ascendency to the Union Buildings in 2018.
In August 2019, the court’s Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba sealed the CR17 financial records after Ramaphosa argued they were illegally obtained by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her investigation into the campaign.
The EFF’s application to unseal the CR17 bank statements has been set down from 16 to 17 March 2021.
According to political analyst Sanusha Naidu, the Red Berets want to expose Ramaphosa’s campaign donors and the money that exchanged hands in order for him to become the president of the ANC.
The EFF really wants to expose the CR17 campaign and more importantly the president, to say that he is not as innocent as everybody thinks he is. That his fight against corruption is all just about the fact that he is taking a political fight against corruption, but where he himself has perhaps been caught in the middle of some unfortunate issues, and one of them being the CR17 funding campaign,” Naidu told The Citizen.
Should the high court rule in favour of the EFF’s application, Naidu said the ruling could be an advantage for Ramaphosa’s detractors inside the ANC.
She said it could also set a precedent for future internal party contestations for leadership positions and who funds individual candidates.
“When you open one can of worms, you are bound to open another can of worms,” said Naidu.
“Whatever ruling the high court makes here it sets a precedent, but it also means someone can bring a similar case to the RET [radical economic transformation] faction in the ANC, which supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and to ask the same questions about her campaign.”
In November last year, Ramaphosa said the publication of the bank accounts belonging to donors who funded the CR17 campaign was out of his hands.
He said the Financial Intelligence Centre had consistently opposed the publication of the documents because donors had not been asked for permission.
The president also said there was no rule in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests.
“No evidence of corruption or any other form of improper conduct exists in relation to these documents or to CR17 campaign. There are no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests, nor is there a provision for the disclosure of such information in the executive ethics code,” Ramaphosa said.
Naidu said the EFF’s application to unseal the CR17 campaign financial records could also pose a reputational risk for him.
“He is in the centre of it and it does raise questions whether there is something he is perhaps hiding.”