EFF bid to unseal CR17 funding denied
The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has dismissed with costs the EFF's application to have the bank statements of President Cyril Ramaphosa's CR17 campaign made public.
The EFF approached the court to force the disclosure of the statements in an application linked to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's invalidated report on the CR17 campaign finances, notes a News24 report.
It says during the course of that litigation, Gauteng Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba agreed to a request from Ramaphosa's lawyers for the bank statements to be sealed on the basis that they contained confidential donor information.
The EFF later challenged that decision.
While Ishmael Semenya SC, for the EFF, was at pains to say that the party was not insinuating that there was anything ‘untoward’ in the donations to the campaign, he argued that when information that was supposed to be public was kept confidential, there was a danger that politicians would use public office to further the agendas of benefactors.
Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court dismissed Mkhwebane's efforts to challenge the invalidation of her report on the campaign finances. Mkhwebane had found Ramaphosa had failed in his ethical duty to disclose donations made to his drive to claim the ANC presidency.
She found that some of the payments made to CR17 had raised a reasonable suspicion of money laundering and ordered that Ramaphosa disclose all his CR17 donations to Parliament.
All of these findings and directives have now been roundly rejected by the Constitutional Court's majority.
The court found the EFF had no right, nor was it in the interest of justice to reverse the directive by the same court.
Judge Cassim Sardiwalla said the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), which had compiled the bank statements, had correctly referred to the legislative provisions on the classification and protection of its information, notes another News24 report.
Sardiwalla noted Mkhwebane ignored the safeguards imposed by the FIC when she filed the report as part of the court records.
‘Ultimately, there are different considerations that may very well apply where the request to disclose classified intelligence documents occurs in any context other than where the documents have been placed before a court by a party to the proceedings and thus form part of the court record,’ he said.
‘In that event, a court will always have the power to regulate the proceedings before it because it is clothed by section 173 of the Constitution with an inherent power to regulate its own process, taking into account what is in the interest of justice.’
Sardiwalla added it seemed this process was followed when Ledwaba sealed the bank records, and added the EFF did not dispute the confidentiality assertions by the FIC. The judge found he could not identify any right on behalf of the party, or in the interest of justice, that would warrant the disclosure of the CR17 records.
‘I can find no compelling reasons as to why the material should be disclosed to the public at large. The applicant has not advanced any public or private good that will be served by public disclosure as against the personal danger in which parties of the CR17 campaign concerned and their activities will be placed.’
Ramaphosa's special adviser and member of his CR17 fund-raising campaign, Bejani Chauke, had previously slammed the EFF's case as legally untenable and driven by ‘narrow political ends’, notes the News24 report.
Chauke accused the EFF of ‘blindly’ supporting Mkhwebane in her ‘unjustified pursuit of the President’ and said it appeared that the party ‘has taken it upon itself to pursue that which the Public Protector cannot pursue without embarrassing herself and her office’.
Chauke said the statements in question were contained in a FIC report that was ‘unlawfully filed’ by Mkhwebane, in her failed bid to defend the legality and validity of her report on the President's campaign funding.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.