The Star 14 August 2019
Johannesburg- At least two political analysts have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the funding of his ANC presidential campaign.
Alternately, they say, he should expand the terms of reference of the Zondo commission to include former Absa chief executive Maria Ramos’s R1million donation.
University of Zululand Professor Sipho Seepe, independent political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi and former General Council of the Bar Council of SA chairperson advocate Vuyani Ngalwana say such a move would address lingering concerns about the relationship between politics and money, as well as the politics of patronage.
This comes after Independent Media’s exposé into the R1bn CR17 campaign funds; who the major donors were; how some benefited from the Ramaphosa administration; and how some politicians, campaign managers and strategists pocketed millions for their roles in the campaign.
The donors had included billionaire businessman Nicky Opperheimer, who put in R10m, Eskom board member and businessman Sifiso Dabengwa, who forked out R2.4m, former Imperial Holdings boss Mark Lamberti, who donated R1m, pharmaceutical company Aspen’s director Stavros Nicolaou, who transferred R150000 and financial service management company Sygnia board member Andre Crawford-Brunt, who parted ways with R2m.
Ramos and eNCA boss Johnny Copelyn donated R1m and R2m, respectively, months after the conference had elected Ramaphosa as party leader.
Ramos was later appointed to the Public Investment Corporation board, Lamberti and Dabengwa to the Eskom board, while Aspen’s R2bn contract to supply antiretroviral drugs was later extended.
Matshiqi said the donations need to be scrutinised, as they showed a problematic relationship between money and politics.
“When people pour millions into political campaigns, they do so that targeted politicians subordinate themselves to their interest and world view. It is highly unlikely that most of the people who funded Ramaphosa did so as an act of kindness. They were being kind to their own interest and this suggests patronage,” Matshiqi said.
“If there is an inquiry, it needs to establish the patronage network. The politics of patronage is now an integral part of liberal democracy. Liberal democracy is in a crisis and it is servicing the interests of elite and it does not serve us.”
Matshiqi said white minority still controlled the economy, which has contributed to the lack of economic transformation and land redistribution.
Seepe said Ramaphosa needed to set a commission to look into the CR17 funding.
“It would seem that nothing short of a commission of inquiry will be credible to dispel the lingering concerns. Such a commission should be led by a judge and Ramaphosa would have to recuse himself in the appointment of such a judge,” he said.
While there is no evidence that Ramos bought her position on the PIC board, Ngalwana said any commission would have to be an extension of the state capture commission of inquiry, and the terms of reference would need to be extended.
However, Professor Boitumelo Senokoane at Unisa, said the problem of the CR17 campaign was not the donation itself, but rather a failure to disclose it. “The president failed to be honourable, even when an opportunity arose when asked about the Bosasa donation.
He failed the moral code. He also failed in his response to the public protector, to disclose his knowledge of who donated and how,” he said. Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs at the PIC, referred questions about Ramos’s appointment to the National Treasury.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said PIC board appointments were not done by the president.