Tue, 22 Oct 2019

ANC allies say that money laundering claims against the president should be investigated and that the probe should be wrapped up as soon as possible.

Last year the DA asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate a R500 00 donation which corruption-accused company Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) made to the Ramaphosa's campaign for party president in 2017.

On Monday, Mkhwebane revealed that the investigation also included claims of money laundering to the tune of R400m.

But Ramaphosa's campaign manager, Benji Chauke, described the probe as "bizarre" and "baseless". Mkhwebane's office, however, defended the investigation and insisted that it was always part of a probe the main opposition party had requested of her office.

"The president can't move around with allegations of money laundering swelling around him," Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told News24.

Pamla added that Cosatu respected the Public Protector's role and her rights to investigate anyone, but said that it was concerning to have such serious allegations levelled against the president of the country and of the tripartite alliance's biggest member.

"All we want is the truth and honestly. We don't really have anything to say about the charges. After all, we are all equal before the law," he remarked.

Pamla said the trade union federation did not want to get into a debate over claims that Mkhwebane was going after Ramaphosa for her own political agenda.

"If you do this, you are the likely to end up getting caught in factional debates," Pamla said.

He told News24, that Cosatu's concerns about Mkhwebane's office focused solely on the quality of work she would produce.

"The integrity of the investigation, whether proper processes were followed, the quality of her work..." Pamla trailed off, before recalling some of the controversial investigations Mkhwebane recently did that landed her in hot water.

Her findings on the South African Reserve Bank and Absa were among the few that landed up in court.

Motives questioned

Meanwhile, the SACP, which previously vocalised its disdain for Mkhwebane, again questioned her motive.

The party's national spokesperson, Alex Mashilo, reiterated the party's support for the office of the Public Protector and the role the office should play in the country's democracy, but continued to question the advocate at the helm.

The SACP is concerned that the incumbent Public Protector has already been found by a court of law to have violated both, and to have acted disingenuously to have approached the case without bringing an impartial mind to bear on the issues before her, Mashilo said.

Without delving too deeply into the current allegations made against Ramaphosa, Mashilo said it was important for the Public Protector to perform the work assigned to the institution without fear, favour or prejudice.

"Any further finding by the court of law in addition to the existing adverse court judgments against her conduct, will aggravate the already existing well-founded concerns about her," he said.

Campaigners still believe in Ramaphosa

News24 also spoke to some volunteers who campaigned for Ramaphosa during his bid to become ANC president and many remained loyal, refusing to entertain claims that his foundation or his campaign was involved in money laundering.

"There is nothing like that. The Public Protector can't win this battle," said one former campaigner based in the Free State in 2017.

He said the only danger Ramaphosa continued to face was the wrath of the ANC's secretary general Ace Magashule, who backed Dr Nkosanza Dlamini-Zuma's bid to become ANC president.

"He should have dealt with Ace from the very beginning but he has been indecisive. This is not good for our guy but I am sure Ace has taken advantage of that by now," a campaigner said.

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