JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Friday that President Cyril Ramaphosa had “deliberately misled” parliament about a 500,000 rand ($35,900) donation he received for his 2017 election campaign for the leadership of the ruling ANC.
The ruling deals a blow to Ramaphosa, who has pledged to tackle deep-rooted corruption and make state-owned enterprises more efficient in order to attract investment and boost the economy.
The opposition complained to the corruption watchdog last November that Ramaphosa had misled the parliament and violated the executive ethics code regarding a donation made to his son by Gavin Watson, CEO of services company Bosasa, for his campaign to lead the African National Congress (ANC).
In November 2018, Ramaphosa told parliament that the money received by his son Andile was obtained legally for the services he provided, but he later corrected this by saying the payment was actually a donation towards his campaign.
“The allegation that on 06 November 2018 during a question session in parliament, President Ramaphosa deliberately misled the National Assembly, is substantiated,” Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said, adding that he should have allowed himself enough time to provide a well-researched explanation.
Mkhwebane, who investigates allegations of wrongdoing by state officials, told reporters that Ramaphosa had violated the constitution and breached the executive code of ethics by telling parliament he did not know his son was involved in the donation.
Presidency spokeswoman Khusela Diko said Ramaphosa had not yet received the report from the public protector.
Among remedial actions sought, Mkhwebane asked the speaker of the national assembly to demand publication, within 30 days of receiving the report, of all donations received by Ramaphosa.
She also asked the national director of public prosecutions to conduct a further investigation into the evidence of money laundering and to deal with it accordingly.