South Africa: ANC backs president in ‘corruption’ row

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said Monday it will support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to challenge an anti-corruption watchdog’s report accusing him of misleading parliament over an election campaign donation he received.

‘‘The president should be accorded the necessary space to study the report and where possible consider some of the options, including but not limited to a judicial review,” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe told local TV news broadcaster eNCA.

Last Friday, South Africa’s Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, released a report that concluded that Ramaphosa had violated the Executive Ethics Code and the Constitution by misleading parliament.

During a response to a question in parliament last year, Ramaphosa told lawmakers he had not received a 500,000-rand ($36,000) election campaign contribution from the CEO of a controversial company accused of massive corruption.

He first claimed the money had been transferred to his son, who worked as a consultant for the company, but later said the money he received was meant for his election campaign for ANC party president. Ramaphosa won the party leadership in late 2017.

Mkhwebane’s report further suggested that Ramaphosa had potentially committed a money laundering offense by misleading the house.

Ramaphosa, who was elected South Africa’s president in May, is widely credited for fighting corruption, which had become common during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s administration.

Ramaphosa slammed the report in a statement issued late Sunday, saying it is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed.

‘‘The report contains numerous factual inaccuracies of a material nature. The findings are wrong in law, are irrational and, in some instances, exceed the scope of the powers of the public protector,’’ the statement said.

The president said he has decided to seek an urgent judicial review of the report, its findings and remedial action given.