South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he won’t reveal names of donors who backed his successful 2017 campaign to win control of the ruling African National Congress because he isn’t obligated to.
“There are no rules in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests,” Ramaphosa told lawmakers in Cape Town on Thursday. “It would be unreasonable to expect the disclosure of such information until all candidates and all parties are held to the same requirements of disclosure and transparency.”
Ramaphosa has come under pressure to reveal details of how his campaign was financed after it emerged that it received a R500 000 ($33 000) donation from services company Bosasa, which has been implicated in paying bribes to officials to win contracts.
While the president said he didn’t know about the payment, the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman found he intentionally misled parliament about it and ordered lawmakers to discipline him.
Ramaphosa has filed a lawsuit challenging those findings and secured a court order suspending the censure until the case is heard. A date for the review hasn’t yet been set.
Ramaphosa, 66, succeeded Jacob Zuma as president in February last year after he won the party leadership in December 2017 by a tight margin against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife.
Civil-rights groups have accused anti-graft ombudsman Busisiwe Mkhwebane of siding with Ramaphosa’s opponents including Zuma supporters in a power struggle in the ANC. The Constitutional Court said she committed perjury and acted in bad faith during an investigation she conducted into a central bank bailout of a troubled lender. She denies wrongdoing and accuses her critics of trying to derail her investigations.
Johannesburg’s Sunday Independent newspaper said it had accessed Ramaphosa records, including emails and financial statements, and identified several donors to his campaign, including several wealthy business leaders.
It also named a number of the beneficiaries of the funds, including senior politicians, managers, strategists and a labour union group. While Ramaphosa won a court order to seal the records, they have already been widely distributed.
Those who had donated to his campaign did so because they supported the renewal of the ANC and had a right to keep their banking records private, the president said.
“There was no abuse of public funds and resources,” he said. “There was no taxpayers’ money utilised.”
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