Kgalema and Gugu: How tight a spot are they in?

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has asked the public protector to look into claims of corruption levelled against his partner, Gugu Mtshali — but he would do well to remember that this isn’t the first time she has been linked to dodgy business dealings.

This weekend, the Sunday Times reported that Mtshali had solicited a R104-million bribe to get government support for a South African company that tried to secure a R2-billion sanctions-busting deal with Iran.

Mtshali was also connected to the controversial corporate battle between steel giant Arcelor Mittal, and mining house Kumba Iron Ore, which have accused each other of fraud.

Mtshali was listed as a director of Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), the company which controversially scored a share of the rights to Sishen iron mine.

In 2010 Kumba cancelled a longstanding agreement to supply Arcelor Mittal with iron ore at cost plus 3%, dramatically below the ruling price.

This was after the Sishen Iron Ore Company, a subsidiary of Kumba, and ICT both attempted to secure a stake in the Sishen iron mine in the Northern Cape back in 2009.

Kumba, a subsidiary of Anglo American, and ICT accused each other of fraud and decided to take their battle to the courts — where it remains.

In December the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that the ICT had no prospecting rights to Sishen, a ruling that has since been challenged by the company and the department of mineral resources.

The battle has spilled out of the courts, however, amid claims of intimidation, bribery, collusion with government and even assassination attempts.

All of this came to light after Mtshali was in the employ of the ANC as a personal assistant to the party’s treasurer general, Mathews Phosa.

Swift action
In response to the latest report, Motlanthe asked the public protector to investigate the allegations.

“The deputy president takes these allegations very seriously and in view of their seriousness, we decided this can’t be left alone,” Motlanthe’s spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, told the Mail & Guardian.

However, Masebe refused to confirm that the deputy president had knowledge of Mtshali’s business ties when quizzed by the M&G, describing their relationship as “personal” and “private”.

“They don’t discuss business matters. Mr Motlanthe has a full time job as deputy president and does not concern himself with private business enterprises,” said Masebe.

Mtshali did not respond to a formal request for comment from the M&G.

Corruption Watch, a South African non-profit organisation dedicated to uncovering and fighting corruption, lauded Motlanthe’s decision.

“It is a positive move, a step that will help understand better what is happening. It is certainly a matter that needs clarity,” David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch told the M&G.

The sentiment was shared by Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who said it was “very commendable” that the deputy president “took the initiative” to clarify the issue.

“I welcome the fact he’s come out so unambiguously on the matter and also that he trusts the office of the public protector to investigate the allegations in full,” said Mazibuko.

Political victory
The allegations of corruption could tarnish Motlanthe’s image ahead of the next ANC elective conference this December, but the move to have the issue investigated should act in his favour.

While President Jacob Zuma has often weathered allegations of corruption being levelled against his family or close associates, he has never formally referred them for investigation.

These include allegations of corruption involving his son Duduzane Zuma as well as the Gupta family, who have been closely linked to Zuma and the ANC.

Duduzane is a shareholder in ICT along with Atul Gupta and it was previously reported the
ICT deal was struck
as a result of the pair’s connection with the president.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

READ IT IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s address on the extension of...

This is the full address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 9

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world