Cyril Ramaphosa SABC schools

Photo: ANA (African News Agency)

Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane: President probes Public Protector’s access to CR17 emails

Ramaphosa has launched an attack on Mkhwebane, calling into question the Public Protector’s motives behind sharing leaked CR17 emails that were stolen from the campaign’s computers.

Cyril Ramaphosa SABC schools

Photo: ANA (African News Agency)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reinvigorated his judicial rivalry with Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Ramaphosa vs Mkhwebane: What’s the latest?

By virtue of his close association with Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, Ramaphosa is currently two-up on his rival, Mkhwebane, in court.

It appears now that the president has taken the opportunity to launch an attack against the embattled and under-pressure Mkhwebane by casting doubt on her motives behind leaking the bank statements of the CR17 presidential campaign.

In her findings of the infamous Bosasa donation, Mkhwebane had accused Ramaphosa of misleading Parliament and claimed that he violated the executive ethics code by not declaring the donations to his presidential campaign.

While the report is still under judicial review, the president took leave from his busy schedule to publicly address his concerns with how Mkhwebane managed to get her hands on stolen CR17 campaign emails.

What we know about the CR17 smear campaign

In the past two months, fragments of the controversial presidential campaign have leaked on social media. In the first wave of leaks, it was discovered that the CR17 campaign had garnered millions of rand in donations from powerful figures of corporate South Africa, including the likes of Magda Wierzycka, co-founder and head of Sygnia Group, and Nicky Oppenheimer’s family.

More leaks revealed how the campaign had issued out loans — or rather ’empathy cash bundles — to key political figures such as Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, and the EFF’s Tebogo Mokwele and Nkagisang Mokgosi, who have since resigned from the opposition party.

The most recent set of leaks included a list of key figures in the judiciary, including the National Prosecuting Authority’s newly-appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, that were allegedly handed millions of rand in confidence.

Batohi has since rubbished these claims, stating that there were dark forces with ulterior motives, and whose objective was to destabilise the hard work they have been involved in, in restoring the integrity of state-owned institutions.

President questions Mkhwebane’s access to campaign emails

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa publicly accused Mkhwebane of having the same ulterior motives in her involvement with the leaked CR17 emails.

According to Karyn Maughan, a well-renowned journalist, Ramaphosa indicated that Mkhwebane used parts of the CR7 bank account info that were not relevant to her Bosasa investigation.

The president called on Mkhwebane to reveal how she had gotten hold of the CR17 emails that were stolen from the campaign’s computers.

“It is my belief that these emails were stolen from the CR17 campaign computers. I call on the PP to explain how and from whom she received these emails,” he said.

Ramaphosa further accused Mkhwebane of failing to substantiate her claims that the donation from Watson was untoward and unlawful.

Furthermore, the president indicated that it was the Public Protector who had prevented his lawyers from obtaining answers from Watson on the matter related to the investigation, despite the deceased Bosasa boss’ intention to cooperate.

“She (Mkhwebane) created the false impression that Mr Watson was reluctant to accede to the interview,” the president added.

This, according to Maughan, was part of an affidavit filed by Ramaphosa in a bid to have the report completely stricken out of the roll.

Mkhwebane, who has been leading an address at the 7th Annual Spring Law Conference that is hosted by the University of South Africa, has not lodged a response to the president’s claims.