South Africa’s president responds to critical report

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the during 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation - Joint Press Conference at the Great Hall of the People at The Great Hall Of The People on September 4, 2018 in Beijing, China. Lintao Zhang/POOL Via REUTERS *** Local Caption *** Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he will urgently challenge in court a report by the country’s corruption watchdog that found he misled lawmakers about a contribution to his presidential campaign.

Ramaphosa has described the critical report as fundamentally and irretrievably flawed, adding that he had partial knowledge of the fundraising details of his campaign to be president of his African National Congress party.

“I knew there was money being raised and I attended and addressed some of the fundraising dinners,” said Ramaphosa. “So there was knowledge but the knowledge was limited.”

Ramaphosa said he instructed his legal team to immediately launch a judicial review of the report.

The report by South Africa’s public protector, a constitutionally created office that probes alleged misconduct in state affairs, said Ramaphosa “deliberately misled” lawmakers late last year about a 500,000 rand ($34,000) campaign contribution from the CEO of a local company, Africa Global Operations, formerly Bosasa.

Bosasa has been implicated in corruption allegations at a state commission currently probing graft in government and state-controlled companies. The report called on the national director of public prosecutions to investigate further.

The public protector’s findings are likely to add to the internal struggle between allies of Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma, who led South Africa from 2009 to 2018, when he resigned under party pressure because of widespread corruption allegations and was replaced by former deputy Ramaphosa.

The public protector’s report is a setback for Ramaphosa, who has vowed to address sprawling graft allegations that forced his predecessor from office and sparked national outrage.

The public protector was appointed by Zuma on the recommendation of parliament and she is widely seen as aligned to Zuma and his allies.