The private business and fundraising ethics of the ANC's North West chairperson are under scrutiny, writes Michelle Pietersen.
ANC North West chairperson and provincial legislature speaker Supra Mahumapelo has been accused of using the ANC’s name to fundraise more than a half a million rand for his personal use, including his recent debut CD launch.
The Mail & Guardian has seen statements reflecting payments made into the account of a company – 360 Degrees Cure – of which Mahumapelo is the sole signatory.
Mahumapelo registered the company in September last year and the first two payments of R400 and R3200 were made into the account in late February. Two months later, on April 4, Premier Thandi Modise swore in Mahumapelo as speaker on instruction from Luthuli House.
Payments trickled in during March, but grew to a steady stream in mid-April and May, including a payment of R40 000 from a security firm.
Between May 2 and 4, payments amounting to R460 000 – which included 16 individual payments of R20 000 apiece from various donors, two of R30 000 and one of R80 000 from a company only noted as “Absa bank New GX ADVI” – were made.
A local municipality contributed R40 000. Other sources of funding came from a local law firm and construction and mining company Benhaus Group, which was one of two companies that jointly won the lucrative tender for the construction of the R180million Boitekong Mall in North West.
By May 4, exactly a month after Mahumapelo was sworn in as speaker, the balance in the account stood at R553 727. That day, R185 000 was paid to Sun City International and R70 000 in cash was withdrawn, among other smaller withdrawals and payments.
The M&G has established that Mahumapelo was collecting donations for an event he hosted to mark the launch of his first album. The CD launch took place on May 4 at the Sun City royal ballroom hall. Those attending paid R10000 a table.
Benhaus Group’s Glynn Rudolph claimed that the payment to the politician’s company had “nothing to do with Benhaus”.
He said the company’s bosses had spoken to Mahumapelo following a dispute with the community, which had threatened to boycott the new mall unless the tenants employed more locals. As an “emergency measure” the company approached politicians in the province, including Mahumapelo, to intervene.
“After the initial meeting, as thanks for the ANC’s assistance, we said we would donate towards the ANC Veterans’ League. Out of the blue, once the crisis was averted our chairperson received an email about some ANC function at Sun City, asking us to sponsor two tables at R10 000 each. I did not trust the payment right from the beginning.”
Two other businessmen who also made donations said they were approached “at the last minute”.
“It was a rush-rush business; not a lot of details,” said one.
The other said: “I have discussed this matter with the ANC’s executives. How is it that this can be? I was not happy with the situation. We were told that it’s a ‘friends of the ANC-type event’, but it was later discovered that the account [into which the payment was made] was not an ANC account and that it belonged to Supra.”
Mahumapelo confirmed to the M&G that he “owns the company 100%”. He said the ANC was aware of his business dealings. He denied that he had used the party’s name to convince potential donors to contribute to the event. He said invitations were sent to various individuals and companies, requesting them to pay R10000 a table.
“Well, I do not know that they [companies and individuals] were told that it was an ANC event. It was my event and the company will continue to operate. We were very clear: we asked people to buy tables in support of the CD launch. I invited whomever I wanted. [But] I did not deal with the administration,” said Mahumapelo.
While the money was supposedly collected to fund the event, the closing balance in Mahumapelo’s account on May 16 was R248 425.
Mahumapelo said the balance would be used to pay staff and for the production of his CD, among other things. He said he had declared his financial interests to the provincial legislature and that the ANC was “well aware” of his business ventures.
The spokesperson for the speaker, Boesman Tsenca, said the office was unable to confirm if Mahumapelo had disclosed his financial interests because the person in charge was out of the office. The ministerial handbook requires that any public office bearer must declare their financial interests, including donations and gifts, within six months of taking office. Mahumapelo still has four months to declare his interests.
Mahumapelo’s detractors have charged that the company was a front, provided no real services and was used as a conduit for businessmen aligned to the current ANC leadership to make payments to fund President Jacob Zuma’s campaign to be re-elected as ANC president in Mangaung in December.
But Mahumapelo said: “They must write to the ANC or the police to do an investigation. They should not hide. Luthuli House is very much aware of my business.”
Mahumapelo is known to be a firm backer of Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. However, provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge is driving the campaign to have the provincial ANC branches rally behind Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s presidential bid. The anti-Zuma camp in the province also intends supporting Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to take over from Mantashe and for Modise, who is ANC deputy secretary general, to be elected national chairperson.
Questioned why as head of the ANC in the province and the legislature he would accept a payment from the Madibeng municipality – which has battled financially – Mahumapelo said he was told that although the municipality’s name was reflected on the bank statement, the payment had not come from a government structure.