Public Protector confirms Bosasa/Ramaphosa web of corruption runs much wider than initially thought

Today I met with Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane to obtain an update on the DA’s complaint over President Ramaphosa’s misleading of Parliament regarding his R500 000 “donation” received from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson.

Over 5 months ago, President Ramaphosa misled Parliament about the R500 000 “donation” received from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson, and the clear relationship and conflict of interest that exists between him, his son, Andile Ramaphosa and Bosasa. I submitted a complaint to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, on 23 November 2018 about this lie and the conflict of interest in the relationship between the President, his son and Bosasa.

Adv Mkhwebane has confirmed today that while she has initially hoped the investigation would be finalized by February 2019, it became apparent during the process of investigating the matter that the nature and extent of the relationship between the Ramaphosa’s and Bosasa runs much deeper than initially thought.

Therefore, the Public Protector has decided to significantly widen the ambit of the investigation to include other issues uncovered during the investigation – including possible financial irregularities – and that his investigation will continue well past election day on 8 May. This means Cyril Ramaphosa will go into a General Election with serious allegations of corruption hanging over his head.

This confirms our long held claim that the President and his son are involved in improper business dealings with a company that has testified that it has been bribing ANC politicians for the last two decades. Bosasa contracts with the ANC government total over R10 billion. Like the Zuma-Gupta relationship, the Ramaphosa-Bosasa relationship follows the standard ANC triangle of corruption: the ANC-in-government gives lucrative tenders to connected cronies who bribe officials, which in return funds the ANC

The Public Protector confirmed that she has to date:

  • Engaged the President, his CR17 campaign team and Bosasa;
  • Subpoenaed bank statements and attorneys on each side;
  • Requested an affidavit from Andile Ramaphosa on his version of events.

Today’s meeting with the Public Protector confirms that there is still much we do not know about this improper relationship and it is now imperative that the President comes clean with the people of South Africa. I have therefore written to the Chief Justice of the Zondo Commission into State Capture for the President to be subpoenaed to appear before the Commission over his and his family’s conflict of interest with Bosasa. Ramaphosa needs to account to the commission and the nation as to the ever-growing list of transactions, contracts and business dealings between his family and Bosasa.

I have also requested to view the President’s declaration of interests since his election in February 2018 because section 2.3(d) of the Executive Ethics Code states that members of the Executive may not “Use their position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person.” (Emphasis added). If President Ramaphosa has failed to disclose any conflict of interest as it relates to his son, then the Public Protector must further investigate whether the President has breached the Executive Ethics Act.

There has been no change in the ANC since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as President. Even former President Kgalema Motlanthe commented that the ANC is in worse shape now under Cyril Ramaphosa than it was before.
We must remove the entire ANC on 8 May and hire a DA-led government that has zero tolerance for corruption.

Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, to be investigated by the Public Protector

I requested the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to investigate the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, on 05 October 2018, in terms of Section 4 of the Executive Members Ethics Act (No. 82 of 1998), to determine whether there was any breach of the executive code of ethics, which is applicable to ministers, and to deputy ministers, in South Africa.

The alleged breach of the executive code of ethics relates to allegations surrounding a Public Investment Corporation investment in S&S Refinarias, which reportedly included a US$ 1.7 million “referral fee”, which may have benefited the minister’s son, Siyabonga Nene.

I received a reply from Oupa Segalwe, Acting Executive Manager: Communications & Stakeholder Management, dated 08 October 2018, confirming that the matter will be investigated by the Good Governance and Integrity Branch within the Office of the Public Protector.

These allegations are serious given the fact that, in terms of Section 96(2)(b) of the Constitution, ministers may not “expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests”.

Allegations against Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, must be investigated by the Public Protector

The Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, strongly denies that he ever acted inappropriately when it comes to any investments, including any investments involving his son, Siyabonga Nene, made by the Public Investment Corporation.

However, the allegations surrounding a Public Investment Corporation investment in S&S Refinarias, which reportedly included a US$ 1.7 million “referral fee”, which may have benefited Siyabonga Nene, are serious, given the fact that in terms of Section 96(2)(b) of the Constitution ministers may not:

  • “…expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests”.

I will, therefore, request the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to investigate this matter, in terms of Section 4 of the Executive Members Ethics Act (No. 82 of 1998), in order to determine whether there was any breach of the code of ethics, which is applicable to ministers, and to deputy ministers, in South Africa.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s disastrous tenure must be brought to an end

Tomorrow, 13 June 2018, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will finally meet to consider a request by myself, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, to remove the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after months of delay. This follows several formal requests to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to expedite these proceedings.

The DA maintains that it has long been apparent that Adv Mkhwebane is grossly unfit to hold office and has made requests dating as far back as September 2017 calling on the Speaker to institute proceedings to remove her.

The shockingly poor quality of the work Adv Mkhwebane has produced during her tenure as Public Protector speaks for itself.

She has consistently demonstrated that she falls far short of the required expertise necessary to hold the office of such a pivotal institution of our democracy, and at every turn has displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of role her powers and the fundamentals of the Constitution. Indeed, the DA stood alone in objecting to her appointment in the first instance.

This is borne out by the fact that Advocate Mkhwebane’s work has been found to fall so short of the Constitutionally required standard that several court judgments have already made deeply pejorative findings against her. These include, that she has been “…reasonably suspected of bias”, that she has not brought “…an impartial mind to bear on the issues before her” and that she …”did not conduct herself in a manner which should be expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector”.

It is on the basis of her fundamental misunderstanding of the basic principles of the Constitution and her own powers that her findings against the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille are now part of this growing list of abject findings by her. Her findings have no basis in law and if unchallenged have profoundly negative constitutional implications.

The content of Premier Zille’s tweets were the subject of a settlement between her and the party, and resulted in a public apology from Ms Zille. The Party has made it clear that we did not in any way support the merits of the tweets at the time. This stance remains unchanged. We have never condoned the content of Ms Zille’s tweets. However, this ruling has profound constitutional implications which speak to Adv Mkhwebane’s fundamental misunderstanding of the powers of the Public Protector.

In addition to this, there are a raft of other cases which Adv Mkhwebane has displayed ignorance for the law including:

  • The ABSA Bank matter (Report 8 of 2017/18), where Adv Mkhwebane demonstrated spectacular bias and did not adhere to the constitutional principle of procedural fairness; and
  • The Vrede Dairy Project matter (Report 31 of 2017/8 ) in which she completely ignored pertinent questions and failed to deal with evidence implicating senior government and ruling party office bearers.

Added to this, there are cases which have been lodged with the Public Protector concerning Members of the Executive who have stolen public money meant to benefit the poor. These investigations are yet to be completed despite the public importance. These include:

  • The “pension pay-out” of R 30 million granted to Brian Molefe;
  • The VIP Protection assigned to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while she occupied no government office; and
  • Several Ministers lying to Parliament, including former Minister Faith Muthambi during the SABC ad hoc committee and former Minister Lynne Brown for failing to disclose Trillian contracts

Tomorrow, the DA will finally have a formal opportunity to present its case for having Adv Mkhwebane removed from office. Through her conduct she has demonstrated that she is unable to act lawfully, she consistently acts without regard to procedural fairness and that her findings are patently unreasonable. The DA will fight to protect this vital constitutionally established institution and ensure that its integrity is restored by removing Adv Mkhwebane and ensuring that a suitably qualified person is appointed to the office.

DA Leader Maimane requests formal meeting with Public Protector

I have today written to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting a formal meeting in order to discuss a number of pressing matters linked to her office, and the performance of her constitutional mandate to investigate misconduct by government departments and entities and to protect the public’s interest.
The role of the Public Protector is integral to the proper functioning of our democracy, and now more than ever, we desperately need a Public Protector who is wholly committed to fighting for the people of South Africa – by tackling State Capture and corruption in all its forms. Therefore I will be raising the followings matters, among others:

  1. Whether she has ever met with any members of the Gupta family, in any capacity whatsoever, and if so, what circumstances necessitated such a meeting;
  2. The latest developments with regards to the new “preliminary investigation” into State Capture, which was announced on 15 June 2017. The investigation aims to determine the merits of several allegations of corruption and unlawful enrichment emanating from the infamous “Gupta Leaks”;
  3. The progress on a number of ongoing investigations following complaints by the DA over the past 12 months. These include the following:
  • Investigation into Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Des Van Rooyen, for allegedly misleading Parliament and the public regarding his visit to the Gupta’s family home in Saxonwold;
  • Investigation into former acting Eskom CEO, Mr Matshela Koko, for allegedly awarding a R1 billion contract to his step-daughter while at Eskom;
  • Investigation into the R 30 million pension payout to former Eskom CEO Brain Molefe, allegedly authorised by Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown;
  • Investigation into Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, for allegedly misleading Parliament when she failed to disclose if there had been any contracts of engagement between Eskom and Gupta-linked company Trillian Capital Partners;
  • Investigation into former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba and the naturalisation of, and issuing of visas to, members of the Gupta family;
  • Investigation into Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, and former Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane for the misuse of state resources in provinding VIP protection to Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and
  • Investigation into the alleged breach of the Ethics Code and the Power, Privileges and Immunities Act by Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, for willfully misleading Parliament by failing to disclose his personal interests pertaining to the Guptas;
  1. Clarity regarding the allegation that she concealed submissions received from Black First Land First about her investigation into the apartheid-era bailout of Bankorp by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB); and
  2. What her plan of action is regarding those who are actually pulling the strings when it comes to State Capture – including President Zuma, several of his cabinet ministers, and the Gupta family. To date, the real architects and technicians of State Capture have escaped unscathed, while board members, senior executives, and government officials have been used as scapegoats.

We are optimistic that as a constitutional officer bearer, Adv Mkhwebane will accede to this request and be forthcoming with the information sought.
At a time such as this, when our country is under siege by thieves and captors, South Africans deserve to be assured that the constitutional bodies and institutions created to fight for them are indeed doing so, and not acting on political instruction.

Getting the law wrong is not a typo, Public Protector

The DA will again write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Dr Mathole Motshekga, to request that he urgently summon the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to account for her very public U-turn on her recommendation that the mandate of the Reserve Bank (SARB) be changed in the Constitution.
Mkhwebane has admitted her findings on the mandate of the SARB were wrong and has put it down to ‘an honest mistake’. This is simply unacceptable and has already cost the South African economy when the Rand’s value declined off the back of her latest report and remedial action.
The Public Protector is required to know her mandate, and more importantly, the law.
The DA repeatedly warned that Mkhwebane was not the most suitable candidate for Public Protector. The Constitution requires the Public Protector be capable and competent. Yet, her recent errors have shown either that she does not know and fully understand her powers or that that she does not care to carry out her duties within the confines of her mandate.
Mkhwebane clearly does not take seriously the post she holds and must therefore be summoned urgently as she is accountable to Parliament and not the other way around.

DA refers Minister Zwane to Ethics committee for deliberately misleading Parliament

The DA has submitted formal complaints to Parliament’s Ethics Committee and the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, against Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, for deliberately misleading Parliament. Zwane appears to have deliberately misrepresented information to Parliament when he recently stated, in a written Parliamentary reply, that his December 2015 trip to Dubai was organised and paid for by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
However, the Public Protector’s State of Capture report found that Zwane had not used the ticket the DMR purchased for him to travel from Zurich to Dubai. The question is, how did Zwane get to Dubai?
Leaked Gupta emails list the Minister, along with Tony Gupta, as a passenger on a Gupta-sponsored flight that was cleared to fly to Dubai on 2 December 2015.
Based on the replies he submitted to Parliament, it appears that Zwane deliberately misled Parliament, which is a breach of Section 7 (a) and (b) of the Powers, Privilege and Immunities Act.
In addition to these allegations, Zwane has also seemingly mislead Parliament when he failed to satisfactorily answer a DA Parliamentary question regarding interaction with the Gupta family. In his response to the DA, Minister Zwane stated that he “has not met with any member, nor close associate of the Guptas”.
Yet, in the media, the Minister has been quoted saying, “Let me put the record straight: I met with them, I’ve engaged them”. Furthermore, the leaked Gupta emails show that the Minister was due to meet with Tony Gupta at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound.
The DA has now referred this evidence to the Ethics Committee, as well as the Public Protector, to request that the Minister be investigated as a matter of urgency.
Misrepresenting information and deliberately misleading Parliament are serious offences and the Minister must be held to account.
It is clear that Zwane has been captured by the Guptas to further their corrupt interests. His trip to Dubai, in his official capacity, on a Gupta-sponsored flight, is just another example of how he has been placed in his position to loot our public coffers and steal from the poor.
The DA will ensure that every ANC Minister that has been captured and corrupted by the Guptas is brought to book and faces the full might of the law.

DA to ask Public Protector to investigate Eskom CEO’s billion rand deals to stepdaughter

The DA will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting that she launches an investigation into Eskom CEO Matshela Koko for allegedly awarding tenders worth R1 billion to Impulse International, a company of which his step-daughter is a Director.
Impulse International was awarded 8 contracts by Eskom’s Generation unit during Koko’s tenure as the unit’s Group Executive.
Koko’s reported actions could show that he is compromised and unfit to be the head of Eskom. By claiming that he was not aware that his daughter was involved with Impulse International, Koko inadvertently admits that he failed in his role as the Chief Accounting officer to conduct due diligence on the company profile of a potential Eskom service provider.
This potentially means that Eskom violated State Procurement guidelines set out by Treasury to guide the acquisition of services by State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) under Koko’s stewardship.
The DA believes that this latest expose could be one of the reasons why Eskom board has been reluctant to release the Denton report.
The DA will ensure that the rot at Eskom is laid bare and all those implicated held accountable. It can never be acceptable that, while Eskom is struggling to raise capital for some of its power generation projects needed to grow our economy, its managers could be busy siphoning cash to benefit family members.

Storm brewing at South African Weather Service

The DA will today write to the Public Protector, Ms. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request that she launch an investigation into allegations of corruption at the South African Weather Service (SAWS).
The DA will also be submitting charges against the board of SAWS for breaching Sections 50 (1) (a), 50 (1) (b), 50 (1) (c), 50 (2) (a), 50 (2) (b) and 50 (3) (a) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
This is in light of the suspended Chief Financial Officer of the SAWS, Ms. Marlize Hogendoorn, supported by an internal compliance report, raising a number of issues regarding irregularities at the state-owned entity.
A Presidential tipoff line received a call regarding allegations that the former Chief Executive of the SAWS, Dr Linda Makuleni, allegedly awarded herself and an executive with large bonuses whilst altering the bonuses down for other employees in 2015.
This claim was investigated by OMA Chartered Accountants and the findings were presented to the SAWS board in September 2016.
A compliance officer’s report was compiled, which found a number of issues regarding the bidding process, the signing of contracts and the authorisation level of the company secretary, which were all in breach of the PFMA.
It should be noted that at the time of the investigation, OMA had submitted a bid to be the audit firm for SAWS which would be a conflict of interest. A legal firm was then requested to look into the OMA Report, to review whether OMA should be paid for their services, however, the board’s selection of the legal firm was also in breach of the PFMA.
On the 22nd November 2016, the interim CEO, Ms Mmapula Kgari, overturned the executive committee’s decision to employ the legal services to investigate the OMA case, as she did not want to fight with Minister Edna Molewa. The CEO instead pushed for the OMA invoice to be paid.
When the CFO refused to authorise this irregular payment, she was suspended for ‘’poor performance”. This was following her bombshell notification of a potential case of fraud regarding a letter of guarantee for a radar project in the millions.
South African’s money cannot be wasted on supporting corrupt and fraudulent activities. The DA will continue to push for clean and competent governance within state-owned enterprises.