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EFF not claiming there was anything untoward about CR17 donations, court hears

David Mabuza and Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating each other after the results announcement at the ANC National Conference at Nasrec.

David Mabuza and Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating each other after the results announcement at the ANC National Conference at Nasrec.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Sejake/Rapport

  • The EFF has approached the High Court to have the CR17 campaign bank statements unsealed.
  • The EFF’s core argument is the statements should be open to public scrutiny given the position that Cyril Ramaphosa assumed as a result of winning the governing party’s 2017 election.
  • Meanwhile, those opposing the application argue that the donors have a right to privacy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot hide behind the veil that the so-called CR17 election campaign was part of a private political matter, as winning the ANC elective conference paved the way to take up the top position in the republic.

This was one of the arguments advanced by the EFF’s counsel in the party’s bid to unseal bank statements linked to the CR17 campaign. The matter is being heard in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, SC, for the EFF, told the court the respondents were conflating issues around the campaign being private as it was part of a private political party running its own elections.

This is because the party would still have had to adhere to the Electoral Act and submit its National Assembly candidates, of which Ramaphosa would have been number one, given that he had won the 2017 ANC election at Nasrec.

Semenya added that when the CR17 campaign went out to seek donations it did so to accelerate the position of Ramaphosa to ANC president, and if successful in the general elections, he would assume the position of president of the country.

‘Secrecy enables corruption’

Semenya said that while the EFF was not making any submissions or insinuations that there is anything untoward about the donations, it was arguing that open justice as a tenet of law should be upheld and therefore, the statements ought to be in the public domain.

To further his argument, Semenya quoted a paragraph from the My Vote Counts Constitutional Court judgment, which required political parties to disclose their funders.

“Secrecy enables corruption and conduces more to a disposition by politicians that is favourable towards those who funded them privately once elected into public office. This is likely to flourish even where information on private funding is ‘held’ at the discretion of the funded and unlikely to be exposed to the light of publicity…”

The EFF also placed it on record that the Public Protector’s conduct around the CR17 bank statements should not come into the equation, but said at the heart of the application is the public’s right to access the documents for scrutiny.

While Ramaphosa has not opposed the application by the EFF, the CR17 committee and Financial Intelligence Centre have argued that the statements should not be unsealed in order to protect the privacy of the donors.

The court application continues.

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