South African President Ramaphosa fights to save his presidency

By John Allen

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will launch legal action to overturn a report by the country’s official ombudsman which threatens his presidency.

He announced at a news conference on Sunday evening, South African time, that he would ask the country’s courts to carry out an “expedited, urgent judicial review” of findings by the ombudsman – called the Public Protector in South Africa – relating to fund-raising for his 2017 campaign for the presidency of his party.

In a report published on Friday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said that Ramaphosa had contravened a parliamentary code of ethics by failing to declare to Parliament money raised by the campaign.

She said this amounted to “conduct that is inconsistent with his office as member of Cabinet”, ordered Ramaphosa to declare all donations to the campaign and ordered the Speaker of Parliament to report back to her on “remedial action” within 30 days.

She also said the way in which one donation – from a company which is under investigation for paying bribes to receive major government contracts – was handled raised a suspicion of money-laundering and referred the issue to prosecutors for investigation.

Ramaphosa said the “very serious” findings against the head of state made it essential that they were based on fact, had a sound legal basis, were rational and had been reached through a “fair, impartial and lawful process.”


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