South Africa’s Constitutional Court cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of allegations by the country’s corruption watchdog that he misled lawmakers over campaign-finance donations.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane erred when she found that Ramaphosa deceived parliament about a payment to his 2017 campaign to win control of the ruling party, Judge Chris Jafta said on Thursday. Ramaphosa’s victory in that campaign ultimately led to him becoming the nation’s president.
“The Public Protector was wrong on the facts and the law with regard to the finding that the president misled parliament,” Jafta said in a ruling in Johannesburg.
Ramaphosa’s campaign gathered in excess of R300 million ($21 million) and his detractors in the ruling African National Congress have called for the list of donors to be made public. Those rivals have also rallied behind Mkhwebane, who’s had a series of her findings overturned by the courts.
The top court’s ruling came two days after it sentenced Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to 15 months in prison for defying its order to testify before a graft inquiry. Mkhwebane has been seen to be a Zuma ally, and parliament is considering whether to remove her on grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.