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S.Africa’s Ramaphosa hits out at graft watchdog

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday accused the country’s anti-corruption watchdog of violating his privacy by leaking confidential banking information about the financial contributors to his 2017 campaign to head the ruling ANC party.

Ramaphosa and South Africa’s anti-corruption ombudswoman or Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, have locked horns in recent weeks after she published a damning report accusing him of lying to parliament over his campaign fundraising to become president of the ANC.

Ramaphosa became the president of the African National Congress in December 2017 beating a candidate backed by scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma.

Since then the ANC has been bitterly split between supporters of Zuma, who resigned last year amid graft allegations, and those backing Ramaphosa, who came to power vowing to fight corruption.

Appointed during Zuma’s rule, the ombudswoman has been accused of political meddling in favour of the president’s opponents in a factional power struggle in the ANC.

In a statement late Saturday, the presidency said Ramaphosa had been made aware that confidential banking information of his campaign contributors, had been leaked to the media.

“The information, supposedly held only by the Public Protector, includes bank statements of third parties, which record private transactions and which are strictly confidential.”

Ramaphosa noted “with grave concern what amounts to a violation of the constitutionally enshrined right to privacy,” the statement continued, suggesting the leak was politically motivated.

“Neither the President nor the campaign has done anything wrong, ethically or legally,” it said.

Ramaphosa last month slammed as “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed” the ombudswoman’s findings concerning a controversial 500,000 rand ($33,000) donation to his campaign.