Advocate Wim Trengove for President Cyril Ramaphosa says Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane made “errors so obvious and so patent that no lawyer acting in good faith could have made” in her finding that Ramaphosa had misled parliament on the funding for his ANC presidential campaign of 2017.
The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) was on Thursday hearing an application by Mkhwebane for it to review a high court ruling that set aside her report and ordered her to pay a punitive costs order.
Trengove argued that in her report, Mkhwebane had misread and misquoted the executive ethics code she found Ramaphosa had breached, and she conflated the concepts of deliberately and inadvertently misleading parliament, errors Trengove said were “symptomatic” of the public protector’s “reckless attempt to nail the president”.
Trengove said Ramaphosa had not misled parliament when responding to former DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s parliamentary question on the R500,000 payment to his son, Andile, by the former chief executive officer of Bosasa, the late Gavin Watson.
Ramaphosa had responded to a question regarding a payment Watson made to his son, “so there is absolutely no basis for a finding that he deliberately misled parliament”, Trengove said.
Trengove said it was an “utterly spurious” finding by Mkhwebane that there was prima facie evidence or suspicion of money laundering in the flow of money for funding the campaign.
Trengove added that Mkhwebane had no evidence of money laundering in the R500,000 that was donated by Bosasa to Ramaphosa’s campaign.
That in her report Mkhwebane had referred to the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act instead of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act when dealing with the suspicion of money laundering, lead to an irrational assessment, Trengove said.
“That was the motive [to nail the president] behind the public protector’s findings,” Trengove said.
Trengove said Mkhwebane should have afforded Ramaphosa an opportunity to respond to her proposed remedial action and further argued that it was not competent of the public protector to direct the national director of public prosecutions on how to implement her remedial action.
Trengove wants the ConCourt to abstain from interfering with the high court’s punitive costs order against Mkhwebane and for it to censure the public protector’s failure to explain the crass errors in her report, her persistence in finding that Ramaphosa had misled parliament and the intimation of money laundering without evidence.
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