Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Thato Mahlangu

Corruption Watch (CW) emphatically refutes claims made by Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which suggests that the organisation is ‘captured’ by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

During a press briefing held on Sunday, 9 February 2020, Malema said: “All the vocal NGOs like Section27, My Vote Counts, CASAC, and Corruption Watch who always demand accountability are dead silent when it comes to Ramaphosa.”

In response, CW’s executive director David Lewis told SA FM’s Masechaba Mtolo on Monday that the reason Malema was accusing the organisation of being pro-Ramaphosa was that Ramaphosa was more open to dealing with civil society organisations than his predecessor.

“We didn’t have much constructive government/civil society engagements with the Zuma administration but we (civil society organisations) do have a more constructive relationship with the Ramaphosa administration,” Lewis said.

Transparency is the name of the game

Malema accused these organisations of not holding Ramaphosa and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan accountable, calling for NGOs and civil society organisations to demand the CR17 documents to be unsealed and made public.

Lewis said it was unfortunate that Malema thought some civil society organisations were being lenient to Ramaphosa when they have asked him to reveal the ANC’s political funders.

“We have done so with other political parties, including the EFF who objected to disclosing who their funders were,” Lewis said.

CW’s donor list openly available, no need to be shocked

Malema said the EFF was shocked to find out that some of these organisations and key individuals in the media have been beneficiaries of the CR17 funding and hence none of them were asking for the CR17 documents to be unsealed.

“The common factor between these NGOs and key media investigative centres is that they are all funded by George Soros; meaning George Soros has his puppets in South Africa and protects them from public scrutiny and accountability,” Malema claimed.

But Lewis said it was no secret that businessman George Soros was funding the organisation, as its donor lists have always been freely and publicly available on its website.

“If you can go to our website, you will see who funds us. The Open Society Foundations do fund and it is a family of foundations that are committed to human rights and transparency across the world. We are very pleased and we are proud to get that money,” Lewis explained.

Calls to unseal CR17 documents

Malema said the EFF will lead an application strictly focusing on the unsealing of the CR17 documents in what he calls the name of accountability.

“The Financial Intelligence Centre has addressed and led evidence in court that these documents were not wrongly attained. It should have never been easy for a court of law to seal documents in an open and public court in the first place. We call on the unsealing of CR17 documents which were wrongly sealed ahead of the court hearing in which Ramaphosa is opposing the report of the Public Protector.”

Ramaphosa had successfully petitioned the North Gauteng High Court’s deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba to seal the banking details of his CR17 donors.

His lawyers argued that Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the public protector, had allegedly obtained the documents illegally during her investigation into the funding of Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign to become leader of the ANC. 

When she investigated the president’s campaign, Mkhwebane wanted to establish how payments were made to the CR17 campaign and who had donated.

Ramaphosa was campaigning and contesting the ANC’s election in 2019 when the former DA leader Mmusi Maimane asked him in Parliament about the R500 000 donation that was made by Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations).

Maimane then asked the Public Protector to investigate the matter, but Ramaphosa managed to get the records sealed by the North Gauteng High Court, stating that he didn’t want them to be made available to the public.

The sealing of the documents would enable his legal team to establish how some of the confidential records, such as bank statements, were obtained by Mkhwebane, according to the Presidency.

Ramaphosa’s legal team had sought a judicial review of the Public Protector’s report.

The hearing is ongoing.