Ramaphosa vindicated by Constitutional Court ruling

While Zuma was licking his wounds after the ConCourt’s scathing ruling, Ramaphosa was anxiously awaiting the same court’s judgment related to his CR17 bank statements. This was the funding used in his campaign to become ANC president ahead of the party’s pivotal 2017 election conference at Nasrec, that eventually saw Zuma’s faction ousted. Ramaphosa can breathe a sigh of relief: the court has ruled in his favour, saying there was no foul play. 

This ruling criticised Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s 2019 finding that Ramaphosa had “wilfully and inadvertently” (which, um, mean entirely opposite things?) misled parliament when he responded to a question by then-DA leader Mmusi Maimane relating to a R500 000 payment made by dubious former Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. Ramaphosa initially said the money was for “consultancy” work done by his son, Andile; a few days later he corrected himself,  saying it was in fact a campaign donation. 

This is another blow for Mkhwebane, who has had a number of judgments slamming her work. Her original CR17 report was being used by Ramaphosa’s foes in the party to try to oust him. 

So it’s been a pretty good few weeks for Ole Cupcake, with his enemies on the backfoot. 🧁️ He won the fight to get Ace Magashule suspended, overruled Gwede Mantashe to release lots more energy generation, and now this.

However, pro-democracy pundits have said the ruling is a blow for democracy. The larger issue, they say, is that internal party campaigns shouldn’t be treated as private affairs, which is what the court effectively did in its judgment on Thursday. They affect public life, and deserve interrogation. That’s a good point. SA has an opaque political funding model that IS bad for democracy. The party political funding bill is set to force parties to be more transparent about their fundraising, but won’t apply to leaders contesting internal party elections. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 01 July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.