South Africa’s Ramaphosa Seeks Review of Graft Ombudsman Findings
(Bloomberg) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will seek an urgent judicial review of findings by the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman that he violated the constitution and executive ethics code when he misled lawmakers about a campaign donation.
The lawsuit will be the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who was appointed during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s rule and has been accused by critics of playing politics and siding with the president’s opponents in a power struggle in the ruling party. She denies the allegations and says they may be aimed at undermining her investigations.
Mkhwebane rejected the president’s assertion that he didn’t know about a 500,000-rand ($36,000) payment services company Bosasa made to his campaign to win control of the ruling party, inadvertently failed to disclose it and rectified his mistake as soon as possible. Allegations that he exposed himself to the risk of a conflict of interest or used his position to enrich himself and his son, who had business dealing with Bosasa, were substantiated, she said in a July 19 report.
The Public Protector’s report is “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed” and she exceeded her mandate, Ramaphosa told reporters in Pretoria, the capital, on Sunday.
“Given the gravity of this matter and appreciating the effect that these findings have on the standing and the credibility of both the president and the Public Protector, it is essential that the courts be given an opportunity to review the report and find accordingly,” he said. “I have decided to take this action not only to protect the rights that the constitution affords me as the president, but also to preserve the integrity of the office that I occupy.”
The president also said he will ask the court to suspend Mkhwebane’s directive that parliament take action against him and that he disclose details of all the donations he received within 30 days. While he said he was aware that money was raised for his campaign, he denied being aware of the details.
The rand was little changed against the dollar in early trade on Monday in Johannesburg, and is 2.9% stronger for the year.
The courts have overturned several of Mkhwebane’s previous rulings and rebuked her for failing to stick to her constitutional mandate.
“We would like an expedited judicial process so that we do not keep our country in limbo,” Ramaphosa said. “Whether the Public Protector is motivated by malice, I’m not going to comment on that. I truly respect the office of the Public Protector. I will continue to do that.”
Mkhwebane welcomed the president’s decision to seek a court review of her findings and said she was confident they were factual, rational and stemmed from an independent and impartial process.
Once-Lauded South African Anti-Graft Body Falls From GraceRamaphosa Broke Ethics Code, South African Graft Ombudsman Says
(Updates with graft ombudsman’s comment in last paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the date ombudsman’s report was published.)
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