President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MASI LOSI
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: MASI LOSI

The ANC has defended President Cyril Ramaphosa in the controversial e-mails saga, saying it is not aware of any acts of illegality by any party leader who was campaigning ahead of the party's 2017 Nasrec conference. 

The leaked e-mails were published by News24 and they allegedly showed that Ramaphosa was aware of who some of the donors to his CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency were. This was despite the president's claims that he was kept at arms length in his campaign effort. 

The e-mails were also referred to in public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report into the donation Ramaphosa received from corruption-accused Bosasa. 

The public protector has found that Ramaphosa “deliberately” misled parliament about a R500,000 donation he received from Gavin Watson, the CEO of the Bosasa group.

Ramaphosa is taking the report on review. 

On Tuesday, the ANC said the leaked e-mails were nothing but a "calculated manoeuvre to de-focus and detract from the immediate task of socioeconomic issues and dealing with the challenges of our economy".

"This is also an attempt to undermine public confidence in President Ramaphosa, whose leadership has been defined by moral and ethical conduct," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

The ANC said Ramaphosa had acted openly and transparently when he provided a detailed account to the public protector on the matter of the campaign financing. 

Mabe said the national executive committee, at its meeting held in July, reflected on the methodologies for campaigning as well as funding, and directed the party's national officials to look into how these processes could be better managed in the future.

To date, the ANC does not have a policy on how to deal with internal campaign mechanisms or the raising of monies by individuals or groupings within the party.

This comes as the private funding of political parties has also been in the spotlight, especially after disclosures at the state capture inquiry earlier in 2019 about how companies such as Bosasa bribed politically connected individuals and the governing party.

In January, Ramaphosa signed into law the Political Party Funding Act, but it did not affect the 2019 elections.

The law seeks to provide guidelines and new regulations on the funding of political parties. It also includes, among other measures, a ban on donations from foreign sources and a requirement for parties to disclose all donations above a certain threshold.

This, however, does not affect funding for internal party campaigns.