South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he would seek an urgent judicial review of the report – which he says is “flawed” – in which the country’s corruption watchdog concluded that he misled parliament over a campaign donation.
On Friday, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog said Ramaphosa “misled” parliament over a donation of 500,000 rands ($35,900) he had received for his campaign to lead the African National Congress (ANC).
“After careful study, I have concluded that the report is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed,” Ramaphosa told a media briefing on Sunday, adding that it was appropriate the courts make a final and impartial judgment on the matter.
Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma last year and then went on to win a presidential election by pledging to tackle corruption, had denied knowledge of the donation when he was asked about it in parliament in November.
Ramaphosa had initially told legislators that the payment was made to his son, Andile, for consultancy work for Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations. He later admitted that it was a donation towards his campaign to become the ANC leader.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who investigates allegations of wrongdoing by state officials, told reporters on Friday that Ramaphosa violated the constitution and breached the executive code of ethics in his parliamentary reply.
In a report released on Friday, Mkhwebane said: “Although President Ramaphosa may have justified to correct the earlier statement on erroneous or incomplete information at his disposal, he indeed misled parliament.”
She said the president “should have allowed himself sufficient time to research a well-informed response”, before responding to a question from the main opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from Pretoria, said the anti-corruption body’s report could be overturned by the country’s courts.
“The public protector has a record of having some of her previous reports been overturned by the courts,” she said.
“This of course has led to questions about her credibility and even with some opposition political parties her fitness to hold office.”