Careers the Zondo state capture inquiry has ended (or not)

A large number of ANC politicians were implicated in wrongdoing at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. The revelations ended the careers of some, while others survived.

Gwede Mantashe 

The ANC heavyweight and minister of mineral resources and energy appeared before the commission in his capacity as former ANC secretary general during former president Jacob Zuma’s two terms of office.

ANC chairperson and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Mantashe, currently the ANC’s national chairperson, was also called to answer to allegations that he had benefited from upgrades to his homes in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape sponsored by Bosasa, which provided services to the government, in particular the prisons, and faced fraud and corruption charges.

These upgrades included CCTV cameras and electric fencing valued at about R150 000, which were paid for by Bosasa, owned by the late ANC benefactor, Gavin Watson.

In his 2018 testimony Mantashe denied knowledge that Bosasa had been responsible for the installations, saying his ANC security team had dealt with the “procurement”.

He also denied that electric fencing had been installed, and disputed the value of the CCTV systems.

Mantashe placed all responsibility on his head of security, Mzonke Nyakaza, who he said was in charge of the general security and made the agreement with Bosasa employee Papa Leshabane. 

Mantashe, who is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s most powerful ally in the ANC, enjoying relations with the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, as well as the unions, still remains firmly in place both in the government and the ANC. 

Vincent Smith 

Ever the party man, Smith was once seen as being one of the ANC’s most formidable legislators, tasked with prominent committees such as the ad hoc committee working on the amendment of section 25 of the constitution and the committee that investigated the public broadcaster. 

Former ANC MP Vincent Smith. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Smith, whom deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte described as her “good friend”, faces corruption and fraud charges related to benefits he received from state capture-accused Bosasa. 

From 2009 to 2014, Smith chaired parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services, the department in which a more than R838-million catering contract was given to Bosasa. 

The former MP made an appearance at the Zondo commission in 2020, where he conceded that the former chief operations officer at Bosasa, Angelo Agrizzi, had “loaned” him R660 000 in two tranches to pay for his daughter’s tertiary studies abroad.

Smith had also allegedly accepted the installation of electric fences and a high-end CCTV system at his home worth roughly R200 000, and R100 000 in cash from Watson every month.

Smith remained silent after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had presented the committee with “horrific stories of corruption” relating to the department’s existing deals with the company in November 2009.

The report flagged bid-rigging and improper relationships between departmental officials and the company and had been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to decide on instituting criminal charges. 

Despite being privy to this information, Smith did not intervene when the department extended contracts with Bosasa for prison nutrition and “before, during and after your time”, according to the SIU.

Bosasa benefited from contracts worth R7-billion.

Even in its legacy report in 2014, Smith’s committee did not sound the alarm or react to the evidence it had heard years earlier.

Zizi Kodwa 

The former ANC spin doctor turned deputy state security minister received payments and luxury accommodation worth more than R2-million when he was the ANC’s spokesperson, allegedly in exchange for support on government tenders. 

Deputy state security minister Zizi Kodwa. (Photo: Delwyn Verasamy)

The payments, allegedly through former EOH executive Jehan Mackay, date from March 2015 to February 2016 and the extent of these came to light after the Zondo commission subpoenaed Kodwa’s bank statements. EOH provided technology services to businesses and the government.

In June, under questioning at the Zondo commission, Kodwa resisted the idea that he should reconsider his position in the government because being beholden to Mackay for R1-million did not inspire public trust.

Kodwa told the commission he was not in a position to repay the debt, because being a deputy minister was not secure employment. 

Kodwa said he did not foresee a crisis, because he did not believe Mackay would call in the debt, nor did he think there was a conflict of interest, because he never sought to influence state tenders in favour of EOH.

Evidence put before the commission by its investigators also implicated Kodwa in receiving payment totalling R174 760 from Blackhead Consulting, owned by corruption charged businessperson Edwin Sodi.

Sodi faces charges relating to the R255-million Free State asbestos tender, along with suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.

Zodwa, who has appeared twice before the ANC’s integrity commission, was appointed deputy minister for state security last month in Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle.

Nhlanhla Nene 

Nene became the first casualty of the state capture commission when he resigned as finance minister after he admitted during testimony to having had multiple meetings with the Gupta family between 2010 and 2014. 

The meetings took place at the family’s Saxonwold compound in Johannesburg, and the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers headquarters in Midrand. 

At the time of the meetings, Nene was deputy finance minister.

Nene’s confession at the inquiry came as a surprise, because he had previously denied meeting the Zuma connected family, telling eNCA in April 2016 that he had only seen them during “public gatherings”.

Nene was considered as the man who fought vehemently against state capture and Zuma, but he was axed by Zuma in 2015 and replaced by Des van Rooyen because of his tense relationship with then SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni.

Under Nene, the treasury turned down a proposal from the SAA board to restructure a re-fleeting transaction with Airbus.

In 2018, it emerged that Nene’s son, Siyabonga, and his business partner Ameer Mizra approached the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in 2014 requesting $29.25-million for a 50% black employment equity (BEE) stake in a Mozambican palm oil refinery, S&S Refinery. 

At the time of the deal, Nene was chair of the SAA board. 

Former PIC chief executive Dan Matjila said the corporation did not fund the deal because it did not fund BEE transactions outside of South Africa, adding that Siyabonga and Mizra’s shareholding in the oil refinery was to be vendor-financed by the sponsor of the transaction and not by the PIC. 

The refinery was owned by a Mozambican businessperson, Rassul Mohamed. 

The PIC eventually invested $63-million in debt and equity between 2014 and 2016 into the deal.

The debt is not being serviced. 

Nomvula Mokonyane

In 2019, while testifying at the commission, Agrizzi accused Mokonyane, the former Gauteng premier and water and sanitation minister, of having benefited from gifts from Bosasa in exchange for political influence.

Former Communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane. (Ntswe Mokoena)

Agrizzi suggested Mokonyane’s influence was far-reaching and alleged she was a key protagonist in the efforts to derail the investigation by the NPA into alleged corruption by Bosasa officials. 

He told the commission that towards the end of every year, he was tasked by Gavin Watson to see to Mokonyane’s Christmas groceries. These allegedly included 120 cases of cold drinks, four cases of high-quality whiskey, 40 cases of beer, eight lambs, 12 cases of frozen chicken pieces, 200kg of beef and cases of premium liquor.

Agrizzi was purported to have been asked to organise funerals, arrange rental vehicles for Mokonyane’s daughter, organise catering for several ANC rallies, provide catering for Zuma’s birthday parties and organise the maintenance of Mokonyane’s houses, all at the then minister’s instruction. 

Mokonyane, dubbed Mama Action, was removed from Ramaphosa’s cabinet in 2019 and declined a role as an MP. She is currently working at Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters. 

Bruce Koloane 

Koloane, the former head of state protocol at the department of international relations and cooperation, was the fall guy for the infamous Waterkloof landing, which saw a private aircraft carrying about 200 guests to the wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia and was granted permission to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base in April 2013. 

Bruce Koloane, former chief of state protocol who is now an ambassador of South Africa in the Netherlands appears at the state capture inquiry. (Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times)

Blue light brigades were then used to accompany guests to the wedding venue at Sun City. 

Several high ranking politicians and government officials were in attendance for the nuptials.

An investigation into the landing by the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster in 2013, found high-profile officials, the Indian high commission, Koloane and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson responsible for the landing.

Charges were later dropped against Anderson, but Koloane pleaded guilty to three charges, including contravening the military defence code. 

Koloane is the only person who underwent disciplinary proceedings and was held responsible for the landing incident after the investigation.

Koloane was seemingly rewarded for his part in aiding the Guptas with an ambassadorship to the Netherlands. 

But, after his testimony at the Zondo commission — in which he admitted to lying, name-dropping and abusing official channels while detailing his role in letting guests for the Gupta wedding land at an airport reserved for presidents and ministers — Koloane resigned after mounting pressure on the Ramaphosa government.

Faith Muthambi 

In 2018, government spokesperson Phumla Williams testified how Muthambi stripped her of her powers and neutralised the capacity of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), a key state institution.

ANC MP Faith Muthambi during the ad-hoc committee on Nkandla meeting in April 2014 in Cape Town. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

Williams testified how Muthambi wanted to steal at all costs and detailed how she had pushed her to the brink of early retirement after having first demoted her and then had effectively made her new position redundant.

In the process, Muthambi had rendered GCIS nearly dysfunctional, Williams told the commission.

Muthambi admitted to the commission that she leaked confidential cabinet ministry information to outside sources.

She was widely condemned for failing to halt former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s abuse of power at the broadcaster. 

Although Muthambi was axed from her position as a minister when Ramaphosa took over in 2019, she was appointed parliamentary chairperson of co-operative governance and traditional affairs. 

Dudu Myeni 

Myeni, much like her close friend and confidant, Zuma, refused to appear before the Zondo commission, prompting Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to issue a summons.

Nzimande said he had no intention to “retain” Myeni in his office.
Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni.

In earlier testimonies, Myeni had refused to answer questions and snapped at investigators, accusing the commission of having a vendetta against her and Zuma.

In November 2020, Myeni also controversially revealed the identity of “Mr X”, a witness implicating her in allegedly dodgy deals from state entity the Mhlathuze Water Board, which operates in the uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo and Zululand district municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, and a housing contract from the Mpumalanga government. 

Zondo ordered that the witness, who testified in-camera, be referred to as Mr X to protect his safety. 

Myeni had earlier invoked her privilege not to incriminate herself in allegations relating to her time at SAA. 

She had refused to answer a number of questions during her two-day stint at the commission, saying she would not want to incriminate herself because earlier this year the high court referred evidence to the NPA for further investigation into possible criminal conduct.

Over the past five years, the state airline accumulated more than R15-billion in losses, while government support for SAA reached almost R24-billion since 2008, according

to an analysis by transport economist Joachim Vermooten.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and the SAA Pilots’ Association successfully applied to the courts to have her declared a delinquent director.

The Mail & Guardian has previously reported on the case, which lays out some of the more controversial decisions Myeni made, including alleged attempts to scupper a critical deal with France’s Airbus.

But Myeni has long denied criticisms against her, arguing instead that she has only sought to promote transformation at SAA and to combat entrenched corruption.

Ace Magashule 

In 2019, former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana testified that Rajesh “Tony” Gupta delivered monthly cash payments of R1-million to Magashule when he was the premier of the Free State, and to Zuma’s son, Duduzane. 

Suspended ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule appears at Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court with his co-accused on February 19, 2021 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Magashule was arrested, charged and released on bail in connection with the multimillion rand asbestos contract scandal in the Free State. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

Dukwana told the commission that Gupta had told him that Magashule and the younger Zuma were receiving large monthly cash payments from the family. This was said after Gupta allegedly offered Dukwana a R2-million sweetener in exchange for his signature on a government construction deal that would have given the Guptas control of a multibillion-rand investment.

Dukwana told the Zondo commission that he was whisked away to the Gupta residence by Magashule, who had earlier told him the reason for the trip to Johannesburg was

for him to attend a fundraising dinner.

Dukwana said when he and Magashule left OR Tambo International Airport in separate cars, he had assumed that they were travelling to Sandton, where the fundraising event was being held.

According to Dukwana, he immediately recognised the Guptas’ Saxonwold home, where they were welcomed by Rajesh Gupta. Gupta allegedly asked Dukwana to hand over his cellphone, which he did.

Dukwana recounted that he was left alone in a room in the compound “for some time” before Gupta and Magashule re-emerged. They were accompanied by Zuma and alleged Gupta ally, Iqbal Sharma, Dukwana said.

Dukwana’s evidence led to an investigation by the Hawks into Magashule, which led to his arrest along with 15 other co-accused in the asbestos scandal. Magashule has been suspended as ANC secretary general and is now facing charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.
Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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