Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN

Cyril Ramaphosa's former campaign managers say it is "bizarre" that the president's CR17 campaign is being investigated for money laundering.

This follows a report by the Sunday Times that public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was investigating Ramaphosa for alleged money laundering in donations to his ANC presidential campaign. This was after she reportedly scrutinised three bank accounts linked to the president as part of her investigation.

Mkhwebane is investigating whether Ramaphosa deliberately misled parliament about a R500,000 donation for his ANC election campaign from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. The probe arose from a complaint lodged by DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

The public protector's preliminary report was leaked to the media two weeks ago and suggested that she intended making a finding of money laundering against Ramaphosa, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the Sunday Independent, Mkhwebane intended finding Ramaphosa guilty of "inadvertently misleading" parliament and failing to declare the donation from Watson.

Former CR17 campaign manager Bejani Chauke on Sunday said the campaign was funded by a broad range of individuals who "supported the objective" of the campaign.

He said the funds were paid into accounts established for this purpose and were used to cover the costs of the campaign, such as stipends, travel, communications and promotional material, meeting venues and accommodation.

"In the process, all legal and regulatory requirements were met," Chauke said. "There is no basis whatsoever for even a suspicion of money laundering."

He said the former CR17 campaign managers had been assisting Mkhwebane in her investigation and had been available to explain the nature of the campaign’s operations and funding.

"It is significant that in addition to the entirely baseless claims of money laundering, the amounts referred to in media reports are wholly inaccurate," Chauke said.

"We are concerned that claims of this nature are being drip fed into the public space with the clear intention to damage the reputation of the president and to create uncertainty."

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Ramaphosa was expected to respond to a Section 7(9) notice sent by Mkhwebane. However, the presidency reportedly confirmed that he was given an extension and would be filing his response in the next few days.

The Sunday Times reported that it understood that the reason Ramaphosa's office asked for an extension was because Mkhwebane appeared to have extended the scope of her investigation beyond the original complaint.

The newspaper revealed that Mkhwebane's money-laundering finding not only related to the R500,000 but to other transactions in three bank accounts linked to the president.