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More Wore to President Ramaphosa As EFF seeks to Challenge CR17 bank records decision

More Wore to President Ramaphosa As EFF seeks to Challenge CR17 bank records decision

The EFF has filed an appeal against a court decision denying public access to the CR17 bank documents, claiming that the judgment “supported secrecy” although the courts have always favored open justice.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president of the African National Congress (ANC) in December 2017 following the CR17 campaign.

The bank statements were handed in to court by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane when Ramaphosa challenged the legality of her now-famous CR17 report, which found that Ramaphosa had misled parliament about one of the campaign’s donations and had broken the law.

Ramaphosa’s review appeal was successful, and the Constitutional Court recently concluded that Mkhwebane’s investigation and findings were illegal, and that Ramaphosa did not have a legal need to publicly disclose campaign funds. Documents submitted to the court, on the other hand, are usually open to the public.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers requested that they be sealed in the review case, and deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba agreed, with the caveat that anyone with an issue might bring it “in court.” During the main review application, no one did so. However, the EFF eventually filed a separate lawsuit to get the bank statements unsealed.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the public protector, has petitioned the Constitutional Court to overturn its damning ruling declaring her report illegal…

Cassim Sardiwalla, a Pretoria high court judge, dismissed the EFF’s case last month.

The party has now filed an application with the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal.

“On the open justice principle, the judgment contradicts no fewer than three Constitutional Court and/or Supreme Court of Appeal judgments. With respect, this warrants the attention of the appellate courts, especially if this ruling becomes the new norm… with cases being conducted partially in secret,” the EFF’s motion stated.

According to the application, once a court review of a decisionmaker is initiated, the papers relied on by the decisionmaker, or the Rule 53 record, “in its entirety becomes disclosable.”

The EFF also claimed that because the bank statements were sealed in a case management meeting rather than through a formal legal process, it put the onus on the EFF to justify why they should be made public.

According to the EFF, the president should have explained why the records were sealed in the first place.

“The sealing was done without warning and outside of court. The EFF’s application stated, “This is antithetical to not merely how justice is done, but how justice is seen to be done.”

The sealed records were “essential for our democracy,” according to the application, in terms of the freedom to vote and the norm of transparent justice. According to the application, the documents had previously been released and were thus in the public domain.

“Yet, the EFF is banned from making public any evidence that is sealed purely due of Ledwaba DJP’s direction, and now the court a quo’s judgment.”

The EFF has announced that it will appeal a decision allowing the CR17 bank records to remain secret, while amaBhungane is challenging the basic rules controlling donations for internal party races.

The battle over CR17 disclosure and other ethics code problems continues.
The courts are still debating whether or not the CR17 bank information should be made public, and whether or not the laws should be tightened…
As part of her inquiry into the “CR17” campaign funding investigation, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has asked the Constitutional Court to have its assertion that she had “modified” the Executive Code of Ethics rescinded.

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