The premier and the lease

Last week’s Mail & Guardian story about Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s involvement in the awarding of a multimillion-rand provincial government lease stated: “The M&G has a copy of a contract signed by Magashule in July last year that approved granting a provincial government lease to Sambal Investments to accommodate the Free State sport, arts, culture and recreation department in the Business Partners Building in central Bloemfontein.”

This may have led readers to believe incorrectly that Magashule signed the lease.

Magashule, through his spokesperson Wisani Ngobeni, objected to the article, saying he had not signed the lease, and had delegated the authority to do so.

The sequence of events, as far as the M&G has established, was as follows. A letter was addressed to Magashule from the provincial public works department with the subject: “Approval: contract for Business Partners Building — Bloemfontein.”

It notes: “Attached is a contract for renting the Business Partners Building from Sambal Investment (Pty) Ltd, owned by Mr [Mohlouoa “Blacky”] Seoe,” and states: “The contract documents were prepared by the legal advisers of the department of the premier and are accepted by the department [of public works] and the landlord.” It concludes: “It is recommended that the premier approve and sign the attached contract for the Business Partners Building.”

Two recommendations are signed off: on July 22 2010 by the acting head of department and on July 26 by the MEC.

Per Procurationem Ace

On July 28 2010 a signature marking the recommendation as “approved” is appended pp (per procurationem) under Magashule’s name. Our law holds that where an agent discloses he is acting per procurationem, he means: “I am an agent, not acting on any authority of my own in the case, but authorised by my principal to enter into this contract.”

The principal in this case is clearly Magashule. The lease contract attached was also in his name, stating that it had been entered into with “the Free State provincial government represented by Mr ES Magashule in his capacity as premier”.

It appears to have been signed on July 28 2010 by the same person who signed for Magashule in giving approval for the contract to be entered into. The commencement date for the contract was May 1 2010. The department of sports, arts, culture and recreation had occupied the building.

The identity of the person signing on the premier’s behalf is not disclosed, but it was apparently Thabo Manyoni, the MEC for police, roads and transport. On the same day, July 28 2010, Magashule signed a delegation of powers to Manyoni to “consider and take a decision on the rental agreement for the Business Partners Building”.

Manyoni is Magashule’s ally. He chairs the Ace Magashule Foundation and shared a directorship with Magashule in a company, Stas Civil Contractors, now deregistered.

He also shared directorships in seven companies — since deregistered — with Magashule’s former personal assistant, Deena Pillay, now the treasurer of the Ace Magashule Foundation. That Manyoni signed the approval document “pp Magashule” suggests he saw himself as the latter’s agent. Magashule was a director of Sambal Investments in 2008. His son is a director in another of Seoe’s companies.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email [email protected]

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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