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  • Cyril Ramaphosa became south Africa's president in February 2018 after forcing Jacob Zuma to step down.

    Cyril Ramaphosa became south Africa's president in February 2018 after forcing Jacob Zuma to step down. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 March 2020

"The public protector's finding on the issue of misleading parliament is fatally flawed due to a material error of law," the judge said.

The High Court in Pretoria, South Africa ruled Tuesday in favor of President Cyril Ramaphosa stating he did not lie to parliament about the donations’ source of his 2017 campaign to lead the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

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In July, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had alleged in a report that Ramaphosa deceived parliament about the 500,000 rand (US$32,500) donation for his campaign to succeed Jacob Zuma as head of the ANC.

In a unanimous judgment, the court said that donations to the president’s campaign were of a private nature and as a result, the public protector did not have jurisdiction to investigate said campaign.

"It is apparent from the report that the public protector was confused about the legal foundation of her finding," Judge Keoagile Elias Matojane said.

There was "no evidence" that the president knew about the donation or that he had received "direct personal financial benefit" from the campaign, the judge added.

"The public protector's finding on the issue of misleading parliament is fatally flawed due to a material error of law," he said.

If the findings were upheld, the president would have been forced to resign for lying to parliament. But the ruling is now expected to strengthen calls for Mkhwebane’s removal from office, the BBC reported from Johannesburg.

Her critics accuse her of being allied with former President Jacob Zuma, whose mandate was marred by allegations of corruption, and of trying to undermine Ramaphosa.

She rejected the allegations and vowed to fight any attempt to remove her from office.

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