Matashe says public protector must leave Ramaphosa alone, as investigation is a witch-hunt

ANC Gwede Mantashe has warned that Ramaphosa’s ordeal is absolutely a witch-hunt.

Mantashe raised damning concerns about the Public Protector’s decision to investigate President Cyril Ramaphosa over a R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign from Gavin Watson, the boss of services firm African Global Operations (formerly known as Bosasa).

During an impromptu media briefing on the sidelines of the Nehawu policy conference east of Johannesburg on Thursday, Mantashe said Mkhwebane must be “engaged”. He said that from time to time, he found that Mkhwebane had involved herself in politics.

“The [Public Protector] is a [chapter] nine institution. If it behaves delinquently, that should be followed formally and be engaged. There are times when you think that she has occupied a political space that does not belong to her, but you must find a way of dealing with that. That is why we are in politics.”

This comes a day after SA Communist Party second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila claimed that Mkhwebane was a “hired gun”. Mapaila said Mkhwebane’s office was used to delegitimise individuals.

“Particularly those who fight back whom rogue elements in the intelligence don’t agree with, so that finally there could be adverse rulings against them,” Mapaila said.

He added that the cases Mkhwebane was investigating were moral cases and not criminal ones.

Mantashe also questioned the validity of her investigation into alleged money laundering during Ramaphosa’s campaign for ANC president.

“There were seven presidential candidates of the ANC. She is not interested in any of them, except one. That is political. If she is really interested to follow the question of fundraising of campaigning in the party – not in government – which I don’t think is her jurisdiction, if she has an interest in that, she would have investigated seven of them. Once you select one ,you are playing a political role.”

Mkhwebane initiated an investigation into Ramaphosa after the DA requested that she probe the R500 000 donation.

This, after Ramaphosa initially responded to a question from DA leader Mmusi Maimane, saying the R500 000 was a payment to his son Andile for work done. Days later, he wrote a letter to then National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to correct this.

In her preliminary report last month, she found that Ramaphosa had “inadvertently” misled Parliament and had failed to declare the R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC leadership campaign from Watson.

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