S.African leader defends contested fundraising campaign

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended controversial fundraising for his campaign to become party leader (AFP Photo/Michele Spatari)

Cape Town (AFP) - South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday vowed to act against anyone involved in misconduct during controversial fundraising for his campaign to become ANC party leader.

After taking over when graft-tainted Jacob Zuma was ousted in 2018, Ramaphosa led the ANC to victory in May elections, staking his reputation on fighting corruption.

But less just a year after leading his party to electoral victory, he is already facing questions over the funding of his bitterly-fought campaign to become ANC president.

Ramaphosa's campaign was again thrust into the spotlight last week after financial details - including donors and beneficiaries - were leaked to the media.

"Anything that was done against our laws in the campaign, yes I will be prepared and willing to act without any doubt," Ramaphosa told parliament in his first reaction.

The country's ethics watchdog has accused him of having misled parliament last year over a 500,000-rand ($36,000, 32,000-euro) donation to his campaign fund from a company facing extensive corruption allegations.

The ombudswoman Busisiwe Mkhwebane had also ordered him to disclose details of all his campaign funders.

But Ramaphosa is challenging the order in court.

He told lawmakers on Thursday that "as things currently stand there are no rules or regulations in place for the disclosure of donations for internal party leadership".

But he said he was confident that his "campaign was legitimate" and was undertaken under difficult conditions.

"In its funding and its activities, there was no wrong doing, no criminality and no abuse of public funds or resources," he said.

He said that donors who, according local media include a billionaire businessman, "owe no apology for what they did".

The ANC is bitterly split between Zuma supporters and those backing Ramaphosa, who took the helm after Zuma became entangled in graft scandals.