NEWS & ANALYSIS

No abuse of public funds in CR17 campaign - Cyril Ramaphosa

President says those who contributed to campaign did so out of concern for future of SA

3.       Mr J S Malema (EFF) to ask the President of the Republic:

With reference to his reply to question 4 on 20 February 2019, wherein he stated that he was not involved in fundraising for his campaign to become president of his political organisation, known as the CR17 campaign, but only met with potential funders at dinners organised by those leading the campaign, what are the details of (a) the persons in the Office of the President and the Cabinet who were involved in fundraising for his campaign and (b) the potential funders whom he met at each specified dinner as per his reply? NO1417E

REPLY:

Honourable Members,

Following the release of the Public Protector’s report into allegations against the President, there has been much interest in the country about the funding and operations of the CR17 campaign.

 As I have already indicated, the Public Protector’s report is being taken on urgent judicial review and the courts will make a determination on the matter.

Some people have used this opportunity – quite correctly in my view – to debate the issue of political funding. This is an important debate that needs to ensue in our country.

I have also initiated discussion within the political party that I lead about the running of internal political leadership contests. I initiated that discussion in the last NEC (of the ANC) where I said this whole matter has brought to the fore a question we need to address as a political party.

But others have a more sinister agenda, using leaked information selectively to undermine the positive changes that have been brought about in this country since the ANC’s 54th National Conference.

The CR17 campaign was a legitimate, forward-looking and necessary effort to promote the renewal of the governing party and broader society, undertaken under difficult conditions.

In its funding and its activities, there was no wrongdoing, no criminality and no abuse of public funds or resources.

Those who contributed to the campaign – whether as organisers, volunteers, as members of the ANC, as service providers or donors, including myself – did so out of a genuine concern for the future of the country.

If there were members of the Executive who were part of the campaign and were involved in fundraising, they did so as individual party members exercising their democratic and Constitutional right. In this regard, they owe no apology for what they did.

What they did is a matter between themselves and their party; just as it is a matter between myself as President of the ANC and my party. It is for that reason that I have initiated that discussion within the ANC.

As things currently stand, therefore, there are no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership contests.

This matter is now before our courts. It is a matter that is going to be dealt with by our courts. I want our courts to determine the extent to which declarations or disclosures may have been needed for internal party campaigning.

Nor is there a provision for the disclosure of such information in the Executive Ethics Code or in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members.

I am sure that the Honourable Malema would agree that it would be unreasonable and potentially prejudicial to expect the disclosure of such information until such time that all candidates and all parties are held to the same requirements of disclosure and transparency.

The Political Party Funding Act, which I signed into law earlier this year, does regulate public and private funding of political parties and requires disclosure of donations accepted.

While this Act does not extend to the funding of internal party leadership contests, this is perhaps the appropriate time for this House to consider whether it is necessary and desirable for funding of internal party contests to be disclosed and regulated.

Do we want internal party political contests from the governing party to the smallest party to be regulated so that there will be disclosure?

I would therefore like to suggest that this Parliament take responsibility for ensuring that the same standards of accountability and transparency are applied to all parties and leaders.

I thank you.  

Issued by The Presidency, 23 August 2019