Emails coming out of the heart of President Cyril Ramafosa's successful ANC presidential campaign for 2017 reveal the names of some of his potential donors and undermine the protection Ramafoza has kept off his financiers.
News24 has several emails from Ramaphosa's campaign circulated among his political opponents and from anti-Ramaphosa accounts on Twitter in recent days.
We checked the accuracy of these emails and found out that Ramaphosa's campaign managers felt that their communication might have been hijacked.
READ: EDITORIAL: It's not illegal, but Ramaphosa should play open cards for CR17 funds
The emails were cited in the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane report for a donation of R500,000 to the CR17 campaign by controversial Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
Mkhwebane used Watson's money laundering complaint to obtain bank statements from the CR17 campaign and warned in his report that Ramafosa may have been captured by his private donors. It identified donations totaling nearly R200 million that went into the campaign, including three large sums from the same donor.
Mkhwebane found that Ramafosa had breached his oath by misleading Parliament about the source of R500,000 and had forwarded money laundering allegations to the National Prosecutor's Office and she relied on emails to find out that Ramaphosa was involved in the fundraising efforts. campaign.
The emails in our possession show:
- Public Enterprises Minister Provincial Gordhan was central to raising funds for Ramafosa;
- The president has been advised by campaign managers on plans to contact several donors, including a Greek tycoon with links to the arms deal and a politically affiliated "socialite" previously suspected of smuggling millions of gold in the country and
- Despite the CR17's efforts to keep its communications secure, emails at first glance have been obtained through secret methods.
The leak includes two emails from longtime Ramaphosa assistant and CR17 campaign manager Donné Nicol to Ramaphosa and an email from Nicol's personal assistant to another CR17 campaign manager, Marion Sparg.
Introduced a note from Ramafosa himself to what is believed to be his banker, instructs the transfer of R20m from a money market account (believed to be to Ramaphosa) to an account belonging to the Ria Tenda Trust, a trust used as part of the financial machines campaign.
Of course, this refers to a loan that Ramafosa has made for the campaign.
CR17 campaigners expressed fears that the emails were received illegally but did not dispute their veracity.
It is unclear how Mkhwebane received the emails and her office declined to answer questions about their origins this week or whether Mkhwebane was satisfied that the emails had not been obtained illegally before including them in her report.
Referring to the upcoming court challenge to the report, Mkhwebane spokesman Oupa Segalwe said the public defender could not comment.
In her Bosasa report, the reference is made directly to the emails only once, while she refers to the contents of the emails five times, in vague terms, such as:
"I have evidence to support President Ramafosa's regular updates on campaign leaders' CR17 operations, his instructions to them on payments, if the money at the CR Foundation, and to ask campaign managers for him to speak with certain donors ", The Mkhwebane report said.
It is not a personal pursuit
In his report, Mkhwebane relied on these emails to show that Ramafosa was involved in fundraising for the campaign and knew who donated. The key defense of Ramaphosa's team was that it was kept away from donor identities to avoid potential conflict in the future.
Ramafosa has consistently maintained that he did not participate in the fundraising efforts, including in his presentation to Mkhwebane.
USE: Public Protector claims millions of raids have gone through Ramaphosa's campaign
"The funds were raised by the fundraising committee; the president also contributed to the campaign financially. Party supporters as well as sympathizers, as well as South Africans who are typically invested in the Democratic project, were also donated," the statement said.
"It was certainly not a personal project or pursuit."
The emails dispute this explanation.
"People you need to call, please.
On November 17, 2017, just one month before the Nasrec election conference and the final days of the campaign, Nicole emailed Ramaphosa, in which she made several requests and statements.
"Mick Davis to co-ordinate a group from London, including Martin Moshal – request a collective R20m," she writes, providing a mobile phone number in the UK that turned out to be Davis's personal phone.
She also asks Ramafosa to call Maxstel's founder, Eric Samson, to "thank him for the money and ask for another R10m".
News24 tried to reach Samson this week to no avail.
Sir Mick Davis, who until last week was CEO of the Conservative Party in the UK, told News24 that he had never been attracted to Ramafos or any of the campaign members.
"I have not contacted Mr. Ramafosa or any other person in this regard, nor have I raised any funds or contributed any funds. I have not had contact with Mr. Moshal in this regard and am not personally aware of any be fundraising activities in the UK, "Davis said.
The tycoon and the alleged smuggler of gold
Nicole's email then requires Ramafosa's permission to contact four people to ask for money.
This includes Greek shipping tycoon Tony Georgiades, who is linked to the arms deal as a lobbyist and fixer and whose company has been a key booster of apartheid-era oil supplying South Africa in the midst of a national party regime.
Giorgiades is reported to have the ear of former President Tabo Mbeki, and has been mentioned in court documents as a lobbyist who has urged some companies to gain parts of the illicit arms deal.
Mention is also made of Paul Econ, a millionaire miner who has a close relationship with former ANC party leaders such as Mbeki and Jakob Zuma, who has once been accused (but never accused) of smuggling millions of gold from outside the country.
Ekon has long-standing ties with the ANC and is well known for funding the party in the 1990s.
Econ, who earlier denied allegations that he was involved in a multi-million dollar gold smuggling syndicate, read but did not respond to texts seeking his comment Tuesday.
The Mail and Guardian have announced that Econ is hosting a party for Mbeki's 50th birthday at his home in Houghton.
The email also mentions David Ngobeni, the former CEO of Shanduka, the owner of Ramaphosa.
Through his personal assistant, Ngobeni said on Wednesday that he "had never participated in the CR17 campaign" and directed inquiries to campaign managers.
Kojo Mills, co-founder of Shanduka and now based in the US, rounds out Nicol's wish list.
It is not clear if any of the people were actually turned over for donations, but it is clear by email that permission has been sought for Ramafos.
News24 could not immediately reach Mills or Georgiades.
"I set a PG task"
"I set out to task PG to collect about R15m," Nicole wrote in an email to Ramaphosa. "He has taken Johnny Copeland on board and is meeting several other people."
Kopelin, CEO of Hosken Consolidated Investments, is a former trade union tycoon. HCI is involved in several businesses, including e-Media Holdings (eg TV and eNCA), as well as the hotel and casino group Tsogo Sun.
Kopelin declined to comment when he approached News24 on Tuesday, but reaffirmed his support for Ramafos, saying his choice was "send God."
Gordhan, through his spokesman Adrian Lucky, said he had "met with several business leaders and other constituencies, discussed public meetings and conducted regular media interviews to inspire confidence in Mr Ramafosa's candidacy."
He had supported the CR17 campaign to "advance the prospects for good, ethical, rational and moral leadership under Ramafoss's presidency."
An email from Nicole's personal assistant to Sparg and a travel agent shows that the accommodation was paid for by Gordon's campaign around December 4, 2017. It is unclear where Gordhan stayed.
Lackey said the accommodation was necessary since Gordhan was a regular MP at the time and "did not benefit from an executive office equipped with accompanying travel, accommodation and security services."
"It is a public matter that Mr Gordhan is actively involved in the political campaign to raise support for Mr Ramafos and the CR17 campaign," he said.
Gordhan was tasked with receiving political support, but he never prescribed or required anyone to make financial contributions, Lucky said. Gordhan guarantees that "business leaders and other vital areas have understood the importance for our country and economy of electing Mr. Ramafosa as President of [both] ANS and country. "
"Mr. Gordon approaches this obligation as part of his responsibilities as a disciplined and dedicated member of the ANC who puts our country's interests above his own," Lackey said.
Gordhan also denied that he derived financial gain or satisfaction from his political work in support of the CR17 campaign and referred specific questions about donations to campaign leaders.
The Greek connection
The most recent expired email, dated November 7, 2017, is from Stavros Nicolau, who is described as a longtime supporter of the ANC.
He is the senior executive of registered pharmaceutical giant Aspen.
Nicolaou also heads the Hellenic Section of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Alliance (HIP Alliance). His email, also to Nicole, was forwarded to Ramafosa's encrypted email address on November 12, 2017.
"Stavros says we will fund the following if we had a little cocktail. I have to discuss a diary with you," Nicole wrote to Ramafosa.
The list of names was provided as a possible guest for a cocktail party, which News24 subsequently established at a private residence on December 1, 2017.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the HIP Alliance said it regularly meets with the ANC-led government as concerned citizens and "sometimes raises funds for political, charitable and other causes."
"We can confirm that the cocktail was held with the assistance of Ms Nicol in December 2017 and the attendees were significantly different from the list on November 7. At the cocktail party, members of the Hellenic and other communities met with the current president and discussed in short, their concerns with him, "HIP Alliance said.
"The president limited his discussions to today's issues and did not mention funding at all."
In addition, the HIP Alliance reaffirmed its support for Ramaphosa and expressed concern that the emails may have been obtained illegally.
Leakage emails do not contain references or communication from Gavin Watson.
News24 sent written questions to the Presidency on July 27. Questions were referred to two CR17 campaign members this week with repeated follow-up requests to which they did not respond.
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