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Jewish donor proud of contribution to CR17 campaign

  • john copelyn
A number of Jewish donors have been named in the expose of leaked emails from the Cyril Ramaphosa presidential 2017 (CR17) campaign. The expose, published in News24 last weekend, demonstrates that the president was possibly closer to his donors than he revealed to parliament.
by TALI FEINBERG | Aug 08, 2019

Among those mentioned were former trade unionist turned businessman Johnny Copelyn; international business leader Sir Mick Davis; Macsteel founder Eric Samson; and Moshal Scholarship Program philanthropist Martin Moshal.

Copelyn told the SA Jewish Report he wasn’t ashamed of the leak. “All campaigns require funding. In a campaign where one candidate is supported by the deeply discredited outgoing president and gang of kleptomaniacs around him, I think it’s absolutely unavoidable for every person who hopes to live in South Africa to have supported Cyril’s candidacy, and to support every effort he makes to clean up the disasters of his predecessor and those around him,” he said.

“The donation I made was to a trust which had aims significantly broader than just supporting the CR17 campaign, and I support the commitments it has to re-establishing a lawfully functioning democratic state.

“What’s at stake here is the future of the country. If we aren’t able to wrest back control of the state from the hands of thieves now, we are all doomed. That is the special role Cyril has in all our lives,” he said.

Copelyn said he never hid his donation. “I never touched a cent from the public company I run to make it. I paid my donation tax, and the email stolen from the trust and circulated over the internet in an attempt to embarrass is not in the slightest bit embarrassing to me. If we don’t stand up to the roguery bedevilling the operation of the state now, we will never get another chance. I have never hidden this point of view from anyone. My public comments in the annual report of HCI are exactly along these lines.”

Copelyn said he gave the same support to National Prosecuting Authority head Shamila Batohi “for the central role in our future she will play, and I am in total awe of the unbelievable role Pravin [Gordhan] plays in keeping hope of a lawful South African democracy alive. A thousand shkoyachs [well dones] to him. May we all soon see brazen thieves going to jail instead of threatening the presidency.”

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the donations weren’t illegal, but it was an issue of transparency. “Cyril Ramaphosa originally indicated that he wasn’t aware who the donors were. It would have created a possible conflict of interest, as businesses could have been favoured with donations as a conduit to that,” said Silke.

“These emails show that this was a personal campaign, with knowledge of the individuals donating. It confuses the answers the president gave in parliament [in response to the public protector’s report on this], and demonstrates there wasn’t full transparency. These leaks are there to discredit Ramaphosa.”

Silke said that in the wake of these leaks, the donors would need to follow Copelyn’s example by being open about why they donated to the campaign. “Most will probably say they saw it as a positive contribution to South Africa’s future. Even though donors give to various causes all the time, the leaks are now making them sound like they had a clandestine or secretive agenda, which is untrue.”

Silke said another question that needed to be asked was why there was the need for such a large campaign treasure chest for an internal vote affecting a few thousand people. If we are scrutinising the CR17 campaign, we should also scrutinise donations to the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma campaign.

The leaked emails will have an impact on the presidency as it is an “embarrassing matter”, and will add to the destabilisation campaign against Ramaphosa. “The question marks it raises will add to the extended cloud hanging over him as he battles various factions within his own party,” Silke said.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ANC said it wasn’t aware of any acts of illegality on the part of a campaign conducted by any leader of the ANC, including Ramaphosa. “The leaks are nothing but a calculated manoeuvre to defocus and detract from the immediate task of socio-economic issues and dealing with the challenges of our economy.”

The SA Jewish Report reached out to the other Jewish donors mentioned in the News24 expose. Sir Mick said that he was never approached to donate to the CR17 campaign, and had never donated to it. Samson was unable to comment for health reasons. Moshal couldn’t be reached for comment.

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