Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa – Max du Preez says Zille has no choice but to resign

News 24

Helen Zille’s only option is to resign

Helen Zille has faced a backlash from Twitter users following her latest posts which appeared to argue for, in her opinion, the positive aspects of colonialism. This is not the first time the Western Cape Premier has been controversial on social media. Watch. WATCH

The only outcome of the Helen Zille Twitter saga that won’t seriously harm the DA is if she resigns from all her political positions as soon as possible and retires from politics.

It would be a tragic end to an illustrious political career, but the only worse option would be for her to fight back, see her white supporters mobilise around her and then get blamed for undermining her party’s possibilities to grow.

If she doesn’t resign and the DA’s disciplinary committee decides not to suspend her, Mmusi Maimane and all the other promising black leaders of the DA will in future struggle to counter accusations that they’re mere black pawns of a white power bloc.

If she does get suspended, the hysteria among many white DA voters will run high and it will divide the party even more along racial lines.

The best option would be for her to quit, not to wait for a disciplinary hearing.

But it’s about more than just the DA’s fortunes. Black South Africans should be forgiven if they have the impression that if a prominent “progressive” liberal white such as Zille has these views on colonialism, most white people do.

It was an astonishing judgement error on Zille’s part to think something as sensitive and complex as the legacy of colonialism could be discussed reasonably and sensibly on a medium like Twitter.

It’s not as if she’s new to Twitter. She has put her foot in it several times with her tweets and every time complained that she was misunderstood.

Why did she not wait to write about her experiences in Singapore in a thoughtful piece, as she did afterwards, using more than 140 words?

Secondly, the wording of her tweets was so thoughtless that one can hardly believe she’s a seasoned, sophisticated politician.

She started off well with her series of tweets by stating that we could learn lessons from Singapore, a country that had also been colonised and is now thriving.

But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Zille descend to the level where she mentioned piped water and transport infrastructure as examples of the positives of colonialism.

It’s the old crude technology argument: if white European colonialists didn’t arrive on the southern tip of Africa 360 years ago, the poor indigenous people would still be living in the Iron Age. So be grateful.

How did Zille think black South Africans, and black DA supporters, were going to react to that?

No wonder racial fundamentalists like Steve Hofmeyr and AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel jumped to her defence.

This was Kriel’s brain flash on Twitter: “To hypocrites that react hysterically re Helen Zille: If you use colonial infrastructure without acknowledging it, it’s called plagiarism!”

Kriel and Hofmeyr’s ilk loved this and embroidered: black people who use cell phones, drive cars, play soccer and watch television should thank colonialism.

As an Afrikaner I find it strange that others of my tribe, whose ancestors were themselves victims of British colonialism and who like to describe themselves as indigenous Africans, defend colonialist oppression with such enthusiasm.

I was wondering: what technological advancement did my (mostly poorly educated) Voortrekker ancestors deliver to the black people in the interior when they trekked there in the early 19th century, apart from firearms that is?

I get that Zille was trying to say South Africa could have, like Singapore, done more with what they had after colonial oppression ended.

But what point was she trying to make with her other tweets? It’s not as if it’s in dispute that technology and knowledge have over millennia been exchanged between civilisations and groups. Neither does anyone reasonably deny that colonial occupation has been part of the human condition since the earliest days of our species.

Any sensible discussion on colonialism should at least make mention of the fact that foreign occupation seriously interrupted the natural development of occupied societies; that indigenous knowledge systems got destroyed; that societies only develop technologies their circumstances demand for their survival.

Zille should visit countries like Ethiopia, where powerful and technologically advanced kingdoms arose from the 8th century onwards. They developed technologies like their own script, complex architecture and irrigation systems because they needed them.

I wanted to send Zille my books on the pre-colonial philosopher Mohlomi, a towering intellectual giant of his time who had never once met a European; and his protégé, King Moshoeshoe I, a leader of great wisdom and foresight who, among other things, had invented the concept of diplomatic immunity and was honoured for that by the king of France.

The legacy of colonialism and how its victims feel about it is too complex a topic for me to discuss even here, where I have 800 words.

But two reactions to her tweets that came very quickly from two of Zille’s black DA colleagues are worth mentioning.

Should a woman who was raped, asked one, declare that it wasn’t an altogether terrible experience because a child was born after the assault?

Another asked whether Namibians should thank South Africa for its brutal military occupation because the old SADF left behind good roads they can now use.

Do the honourable thing, Helen. For your own sake, for that of your party and for all our sakes, retire now.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

South Africa – Are there cracks in the ANC’s premier league?

BD live

Cracks seem to be appearing in the ANC’s ‘premier league’

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza criticises his Free State counterpart for punting him for the position of deputy president in the party, saying it was uncalled fo

28 February 2017 – 15:19 PM Mandla Khoza
David Mabuza.   Picture: SOWETAN
David Mabuza. Picture: SOWETAN

Cracks are appearing in a powerful ANC faction dubbed the “premier league” after Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza on Monday criticised his Free State counterpart for punting him for the position of deputy president in the party, saying it was uncalled for.

The premier league is a group of ANC chairs, supportive of President Jacob Zuma, which includes the North West, the Free State and Mpumalanga.

However, it is understood there are differences within the group over who to support for which positions at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Zuma has effectively come out in support of former African Union (AU) Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him as president of the ANC.

There is behind-the-scenes jostling for the position of deputy president and at the weekend Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule at Mabuza’s brother’s funeral told ANC members that if they wanted Mabuza as the next deputy president, they should elect him.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Mabuza described Magashule’s comments as uncalled for.

He said the ANC had decided not to openly name candidates for positions and to focus on policy instead. He urged people not to use his name to bypass ANC rules.

“As the ANC we have taken a decision to not discuss names … let’s talk about important issues like what have we done and what we need to do. Yes, people have a right to talk and discuss my name and I will not respond because they are talking about me not with me,” Mabuza said.

“I do not have to respond about the premier of Free State, all I can tell him is that do not break the rule of the ANC in my name. I hear people are talking in corners about me … there might be good and bad intentions.

“So the premier [Magashule] came here to support me when I was burying my brother, so there were people of the ANC who came to support me. I let him speak to the members of the ANC, but he then (uvukwa ngumoya) meaning spirits, saying if they want me they must elect me,” said Mabuza.

Mabuza said the province had taken a decision to support the families of the three Lily Mine victims, Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda whose bodies have been trapped in the mine since February 5 2016.

“On the Lily Mine issue, I met with the mine and the Minister of Mineral Resources [Mosebenzi Zwane] to discuss the way forward and also see what to do since there were promises that were not kept. The mine pleaded that they do not have money hence they are on business rescue, so … they are looking for monies to continue with the operation and recovery of the bodies. As the provincial government, we have taken it [on] ourselves that we will support the families of the three victims.

“I have also seen that in that community there is dire poverty hence as government we will try to make sure they get services correctly” said Mabuza.

With Natasha Marrian

South Africa – if Zuma resigns should he get an amnesty?

News24

Amnesty if Zuma goes?

2017-02-15 10:34

President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

President Jacob Zuma (File: AFP)

Adriaan Basson

Would South Africans be willing to let President Jacob Zuma off the hook to see the back of him?

Those in the know think that legal amnesty may be the only option left to remove Zuma from his position as state president before his term ends in 2019, which has now become a matter of urgency.

Neither the country, nor the ANC can afford Zuma any longer.

I wrote a similar column in 2014 and was admonished by the ANC for my “desperate and futile campaign” to get rid of Zuma. In the past three years, Zuma has done a sterling job himself of proving not only to his critics, but to his own party why he is unfit to govern.

His State of the Nation Address was nothing more than a poorly executed cut-and-paste exercise mixed with alternative facts to showcase Zuma’s newfound zest for “radical economic transformation”.

But the emperor was naked.

On his left – dressed in red overalls and hardhats – sat the real politicians who had placed economic freedom at the centre of our political discourse.

Not without fault, the EFF has been successful in championing the cause of landlessness, the skewed ownership of capital and the slow pace of transformation in numerous sectors.

With able assistance from his friends in Saxonwold, Zuma is now attempting to hijack this cause for his own political survival. “Radical economic transformation” will be his fight song in 2017, whenever he is challenged by forces from within the ANC and outside.

He will fob off criticism with expensive spin that “white monopoly capital” is attempting to hijack the state by getting rid of him, as if Johann Rupert, Christo Wiese or Nicky Oppenheimer (or Patrice Motsepe, for that matter) have any inclination to fix potholes or run hospitals.

Let’s be clear: there is a serious conversation to be had about economic transformation or the lack thereof 23 years after democracy. Yes, great strides have been made by the ANC (Zuma was silent on this in his SONA speech) and the private sector, but much more needs to be done.

And let’s be as clear: Jacob Zuma is not the man to head this new struggle. Zuma has spent 19 years as a member of the executive in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa.

In KwaZulu-Natal he was MEC for economic affairs. As deputy president since 1999 he had the highest level of access and influence on the ANC’s and the country’s economic policy. If he had not been radical for 19 years, he will not be radical now.

Those who buy into Zuma’s latest rhetoric should ask Zwelinzima Vavi, Julius Malema and Blade Nzimande to show them their Polokwane battle scars.

The only radical thing to have happened under Zuma’s presidency was the radical capture of the state by Zuma’s family and friends, the Guptas.

This includes the radical empowerment of Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and nephew, Khulubuse; the radical abuse of an air force base by the Guptas; the radical expenditure on Zuma’s Nkandla homestead and the radical looting of money from state-owned enterprises to enrich the businesses of the Zuptas.

No wonder the fight-back has been so radical. The Zuptas have everything to lose. They are fighting for their lives when they are not flying to Dubai on unknown business. The “analysis” of their favourite commentator Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, who arrived with Duduzane at SONA, has become more radical in recent days.

Who knows what’s happening behind the scenes. Who knows why Duduzane left his family in a Melrose Arch restaurant recently and dashed off to join arms deal playboy Fana Hlongwane in his navy blue Bentley. Where did they speed off to?

How much or little do we actually know of what’s going on? Maybe there will be a KPMG report in the future that will bring all these puzzle pieces together.

What is clear is that Zuma is politically much weaker than a year ago. He is “paranoid” about the possibility of an attack or a coup; physically or politically. That’s why he needs soldiers to protect him at SONA and a friendly successor to protect him from jail.

No wonder murmurings of legal amnesty if he goes are picking up steam again. This time even the most rigid constitutional purists may be willing to bend the rules to see the back of our deeply dishonoured president.

– Adriaan Basson is the editor of News24. Follow him on Twitter: @adriaanbasson.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

South Africa -the SONA details beyond the violence

Huffington Post

Forget The Chaos For A Minute And Read Our Quick Policy Guide To The Speech

Fees and data costs will fall a little, radical economic transformation is explained, and there are still promises to create more jobs.

09/02/2017 22:50 SAST | Updated 23 hours ago

If it feels like the annual State of the Nation Address and opening of Parliament were overwhelmed by pepper spray, cable ties and violent blows. However there are some important things in President Jacob Zuma’s speech you might need to know.

Here they are:

  • 1.3%. That’s what the President expects the economy to grow at this year — better than 0.5% in 2016.
  • While Eskom has refused to sign new agreements for renewable energy sourced from new market entrants, the president restated support for renewables as part of the energy mix. “Eskom will sign the outstanding power purchase agreements for renewable energy in line with the procured rounds.” This is big.
  • Nuclear was not singled out as more important than other new forms of energy.
  • 895 new schools have been built.
  • 6 million new work opportunities in state-run public works by the end of 2019.
  • 2031. That’s when National Health Insurance will be implemented in full.
  • This!!! “We assure the youth that the lowering of the cost of data is uppermost in our policies plans.”
  • The land expropriation bill is going back to Parliament so land reform and restitution is unlikely to move any faster.
  • R32 billion. That is how much government has shifted around in the budget to support students. #feeswillfall a little.
  • The threshold to get student funding is too low (at R122,000 per household income a year) and the president’s promised to look at it.
  • The president signalled the start of a period of radical socio-economic transformation and he finally defined it: “fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female…”

What does radical economic transformation mean for you?

  • Faster affirmative action in the workplace.
  • Government will use legislation, regulation, licensing, budget and procurement to drive transformation.
  • Big contractors must subcontract 30 percent of business to small black-owned enterprises on government contracts. This is big if it happens.
  • Big is bad. “The Department of Economic Development will bring legislation to Cabinet that will seek to amend the Competition Act. It will among others address the need to have a more inclusive economy and de-concentrate the high levels of ownership and control we see in many sectors.” This legislation will be tabled.
  • A plan to change how land is owned to benefit workers as joint owners is moving along. There are 13 plans in the works to benefit 921 farm dwellers. The idea is three years old.
  • 450 black smallholder farmers are going to get big help from government, so get in there if you are a black farmer.

South Africa – Sipho Pityana says if Zuma gets his hands on the treasury it’s game over for SA

News24

Feb 02 2017 11:55

Liesl Peyper

AngloGold Ashanti chairperson Sipho Pityana. (News24)

Cape Town – Save SA convenor Sipho Pityana said National Treasury “is the last frontier between [President Jacob] Zuma and unfettered access to the coffers of the state of this country” in an address at the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday.

Pityana, who is also chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti, said “Zuma and his cronies’ attempts to loot the fiscus are frustrated by National Treasury”.

“When our National Treasury is overrun it will be game over for South Africa,” he said. “If you have no sense of what a nuclear deal will mean for SA, think about this: we’ll work for the Russians for the rest of our lives. Our children would be slaves of the Russians.

“When Project State Capture is complete, our state-owned entities will provide unfettered access to state resources for Zuma and his cronies and family members,” he said.

“There is a Cabinet lekgotla currently taking place, but will the real issues be addressed?” he asked. “Such as the hard questions about why the FIC Bill was sent back on the flimsiest of grounds. Or why the president pushes for the black industrialists programme, yet the richest of them all is his friend Ajay Gupta.”

Atul Gupta, Ajay’s brother and chairperson at Oakbay Resources and Energy, is wealthier than Richemont chairperson Johann Rupert. He is also a close friend to Zuma.

This is according to the Business Times Rich List 2016, released last year. According to the report by Sunday Times, Atul Gupta is the seventh wealthiest South African and the top earning black businessman.

WATCH: Treasury is the last hurdle to state capture – Pityana

Pityana said “the Cabinet lekgotla should also demand that firm steps be taken to defend South Africa’s sovereignty from forces who are hellbent on undermining it”.

Business Day reported on Thursday that Zuma “could be ‘preparing the ground’ to remove Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is battling Jacob Zuma’s family friends, the Guptas”.

An unnamed source, referring to Zuma’s speech at the three-day ANC lekgotla last week, told the paper that Zuma criticised Treasury “for not availing funds for certain projects, saying his ministers constantly complained about being inadequately resourced by the Treasury to carry out their mandates”.

Vytjie Mentor, who claimed the Guptas offered her a Cabinet post, was also at the Press Club. This is what she said:

South Africa – ANC enslaved by struggle habits

Mail and Guardian

Dated: The youth base their vote on whether a party can deliver a just South Africa, not on struggle credentials. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP
Dated: The youth base their vote on whether a party can deliver a just South Africa, not on struggle credentials. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP

There is no compelling reason for the ANC to remain enslaved by liberation struggle habits. Almost 23 years into democracy it is time for the governing party to habituate itself to new political ways of being.

Take the cringeworthy way in which the battle for the leadership of the ANC is (not) unfolding. The party leadership pretends there isn’t already a debate raging in its ranks about who should be elected to the top positions in the party later this year.

Lobbying has started already. Factions have already emerged. Former political foes within the tripartite alliance have started, behind the scenes, to co-operate with each other to ensure their slates might have the best chance of being elected. Horse trading is well under way.

So why on earth is the party leadership telling its members, the media and the public not to talk of succession?

A vow of silence doesn’t help to ensure cohesion within the party. Differences about who should lead and what the next vision and plan for the country’s future is to take to the electorate in 2019 aren’t going away just because you are not debating these issues openly and publicly.

There is no legitimate fear about letting candidates speak in the first person, own their ambition and make a case for their fitness to hold office within the party and ultimately within the state.

There is no reason why the party shouldn’t embrace transparency.

There are two parts to the party’s misplaced attitude towards open contestation for leadership positions. The first is that this attitude is rooted in the fairly opaque nature of liberation-era politics. When you are fighting a monster like the powerful and immoral apartheid state, maximum transparency can be costly in the fight for freedom.

Liberation movements need a mix of limited freedoms in their deepest structures — because ideas still need to be debated to ensure the best ones guide the fight for freedom — but also an acceptance of a degree of command structured leadership. Liberation movements aren’t wholly opaque, of course. But they certainly aren’t blueprints for what political parties should aim at in a democratic culture premised on deliberation and participation.

The ANC’s current leadership sounds archaic in its insistence that no one should talk about leadership succession. They are showing us how hard it is to teach old political dogs new tricks. The awkward truth of course is that the ANC never really got the point of internal democratic culture. It fears democratic habits rather than embracing them as a means to choosing the brightest and the best to lead the party and the country.

And that is why the party makes a bizarre distinction between debating the ideal traits one wants in a leader, and directly naming and evaluating actual candidates for these positions that will soon be vacant. This is disingenuous.

Not least because in reality ANC members are already doing both: thinking about what kind of leadership it needs as our country marches towards the next general election, and who should be elected to that leadership structure.

The second issue here is a continued refusal to make full sense of the thumping that the party received in the local elections last year. The youth are disproportionately affected, as a demographic, by the stubbornly high levels of unemployment and low economic growth that will remain features of our economy for a while yet.

Young people have disproved the lie that they are apolitical. They are engaged. They are protesting. They are deeply committed to justice and fighting exclusion. That is why we see protests in the academy and also why many unemployed young people are often visibly present in service-delivery protests.

A crucial characteristic of this demographic that the ANC isn’t paying enough attention to is weak loyalty to any one of the main political parties. Struggle memory has little effect on their political orientation. They want a responsive state that is demonstrably committed to bringing about a more just South Africa regardless of who it is that is in charge of that state.

The implication for the ANC is that liberation-era habits that have no resonance with this increasingly younger set of active citizens is a recipe for failure. The party needs to embrace the structural changes in how society works that have become everyday reality over the past 20 years.

These includes technological and social changes that must influence the party’s internal processes and habits if they are to remain relevant.

Unlike in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, we now have digital identities and online platforms that facilitate the free flow of information and continuous 24-hour debate between citizens. In that context you cannot control the minds of citizens. They know too much. They have more agency than ANC elders had. They can organise easily.

The ANC must embrace modernity and accept that the world has changed irrevocably since demo-cracy’s dawn. Voters are not blank slates onto which the ANC can spray archaic political rhetoric. The ANC must embrace transparency and open contestation.

After all, the struggle was for democracy, wasn’t it?

South Africa – how Guptas laundered kickbacks millions

Huffington Post

Guptas ‘Laundered’ Kickback Millions — Here’s The Evidence

A year-long investigation points to an intricate system President Jacob Zuma’s friends, the Gupta family, allegedly used to extract bribes from companies doing business with a state institution.

08/12/2016

Evidence of millions flowing to a Gupta company has tied the family directly to an apparent racket of shaking down companies that sought state contracts.

For more than a year, amaBhungane has investigated how a letterbox company called Homix secreted away hundreds of millions; apparent kickbacks from companies doing business with Transnet, the state-owed transport operator.

There were signs all along that this had something to do with the Guptas. Homix’s self-proclaimed chief executive used to manage a Gupta company. Some of the money flowed to a Hong Kong firm that shared an address with a Gupta lieutenant’s companies.

Now, papers filed in the High Court in Johannesburg have provided direct evidence of Gupta involvement: after Homix was exposed, a seemingly round 10% of the first year’s fee on another big Transnet contract flowed to Gupta-owned TNA Media.

The amount, R17,1 million, was allegedly laundered through two companies on the strength of a backdated contract and bogus invoices before arriving at TNA, which publishes The New Age, court papers show.

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The latest evidence adds substance to the claim at the centre of the “state capture” debate: that the Guptas squeeze kickbacks from companies doing business with the state by using their political connections and officials they have deployed or bought.

We fully respect genuine media enquiries but will no longer reply to … amaBhungane.Gupta family

The Gupta family did not reply to questions this week, saying via a spokesperson: “AmaBhungane has consistently printed innuendo, speculation and lies about the Gupta family, its businesses and its friends. We have replied in good faith many times, but still suffer from total rubbish being printed. We fully respect genuine media enquiries but will no longer reply to … amaBhungane.”

Transnet denied wrongdoing, saying it was “confident in [our] processes”.

The emergence of Homix

The story so far starts in early 2014 when Homix made contact with telecoms provider Neotel. In a letter, it offered to land Neotel a Transnet IT equipment contract — in return for which it wanted 10% of the contract value.

Despite internal misgivings, Neotel paid Homix R35 million and landed the contract, worth over R300 million.

During August 2014, an even bigger prize came up. Transnet nominated Neotel as preferred bidder in a tender for a wide suite of network services, saying that it would get the contract if terms could be agreed by a December deadline.

With two weeks to go, Transnet withdrew from the negotiations without giving reasons, according to information from an investigation later ordered by Neotel’s board. In apparent desperation, Neotel reached out to Homix again.

A single person used to come in irregularly, generally after hours.

A Neotel employee told the board’s investigators that Homix again demanded 10%. Neotel bargained it down to 2% of the R1.8 billion contract value — R41 million including VAT.

Transnet returned to the negotiating table and Neotel got the contract.

There can be little doubt the payments were kickbacks. Homix was not a sophisticated consulting business whose work could justify millions in fees. When amaBhungane visited its Wierda Park, Centurion office address last year, we found a locked blue door abutting a latrine in a neglected office block.

amaBhungane

amaBhungane

A neighbour said a single person used to come in irregularly, generally after hours.

Homix’s only registered director, Yakub Bhikhu, was hard to trace. When someone claiming to be him finally answered a phone number stuck to the blue door, he did not respond to questions.

However, when the Neotel investigators started asking questions, one Ashok Narayan identified himself as Homix’s chief executive and tried unsuccessfully to convince them that the company had done real work for Neotel.

Narayan was a former managing director of Gupta IT company Sahara Systems.

amaBhungane

The Homix laundry

Homix bank records later seen by amaBhungane confirmed the impression that it was a front to launder kickbacks, not a legitimate business.

The records showed minimal office and no salary expenses. But they did show money flowing in and out of Homix at an astounding rate: R144 million in and R189 million out over just six months.

The inflows consisted largely of transfers from Neotel and four other companies, each of which benefited from Transnet contracts.

Almost all of the outflows went to Bapu Trading, a company more obscure even than Homix. There the trail went cold.

But a month later, in May 2015, Homix made 16 transfers totalling about R66 million to two Hong Kong companies, according to an official report seen by amaBhungane.

The Reserve Bank got suspicious, as the outflows did not match claimed imports. It froze the last three transfers at the end of that month.

One of the two Hong Kong companies on the receiving end, Morningstar International Trade, shares a registered address with companies formed by Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa.

“Confinement” is Transnet’s term for appointing a supplier without a competitive tender.

CCTV contracts

During this entire history, two more very large contracts came up at Transnet, this time to install CCTV cameras at ports. Again they went to Neotel, and again 10% appears to have been laundered.

But this time it ended discernably in a Gupta account. It went like this:

In May 2014, Transnet approved the confinement of the first CCTV contract, worth R329 million, to Neotel. “Confinement” is Transnet’s term for appointing a supplier without a competitive tender.

Nine months later, on February 20, 2015, Transnet management recommended confining a second CCTV contract to Neotel too, Transnet procurement records show.

The timing was interesting. The day before, Neotel records show, Neotel had signed a “business consultancy agreement” with Homix finally to give effect to its promise to pay Homix R41 million to get the unrelated Transnet network services contract.

Transnet notified Neotel that it had won the second CCTV contract, worth another R505 million over three years, at the end of March 2015, Neotel records show. Two weeks later Transnet formally placed the order with Neotel.

Neotel in turn subcontracted a CCTV specialist company, Technology and Procurement Holdings, better known as Techpro.

Homix exposed

If Neotel or Techpro had promised a kickback on this latest contract too, paying it via Homix would have been risky.

In mid-April 2015, when Transnet placed the CCTV order, Neotel’s auditors were crawling all over the earlier Homix payments. They blew the whistle to Neotel’s board, which commissioned an investigation that ultimately led to Neotel’s chief executive and chief financial officers resigning.

And the air was not about to clear. By the end of April, Neotel’s auditors had reported the Homix payments to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors, which in time notified other authorities, including the Hawks.

By the end of May, the Reserve Bank had frozen Homix’s remittances to Hong Kong.

Wanted: a new kickback channel

So if a kickback could not be paid via Homix, then who?

The answer appears to lie in the dirty washing of financial advisory firm Regiments Capital, hung out to dry in rancorous litigation between its directors at the Johannesburg High Court.

On June 4, 2015, days after the Reserve Bank froze Homix’s transfers to Hong Kong, Wood received an email from Narayan — the former Gupta manager and self-identified Homix chief executive.

Directors Litha Nyhonyha and Niven Pillay on the one hand, and Eric Wood on the other, fell out after Wood sided with the Guptas and Essa when a Gupta offer to buy Regiments fell through.

Though Wood joined Essa in the competing Trillian Capital Partners this year, the two sides are still trying to have each other removed from Regiments’ board.

In an affidavit filed last month, Nyhonya describes, and attaches, evidence he says was discovered after Wood left.

What it shows is this:

On June 4, 2015, days after the Reserve Bank froze Homix’s transfers to Hong Kong, Wood received an email from Narayan — the former Gupta manager and self-identified Homix chief executive.

Narayan asked Wood to get Regiments to invoice Techpro, the Neotel CCTV subcontractor, for R17,1 million. Wood complied.

The next day Narayan emailed Wood again, attaching three invoices, also totaling R17,1 million, from TNA, the Gupta media company, to Regiments. The TNA invoices purported to be for Regiments advertising in The New Age.

Next, Narayan emailed Wood an agreement purporting to be between Regiments and Techpro. It was already signed by Techpro and backdated five months to January 2015.

The agreement provided justification, on paper at least, for the Techpro payments to Regiments, saying Regiments would do “cost analysis and financial modelling” for Techpro “in respect of the second phase of CCTV installation at Transnet”.

amaBhungane

‘Fictitious transactions’

Nyhonyha states in his affidavit that Regiments did not advertise in The New Age and that Regiments did not provide the claimed services to Techpro. Wood, he charged, “knowingly allowed Regiments to be used as a conduit for an entirely fictitious set of transactions” to launder money from Techpro to TNA.

Wood denies this, saying his version will be provided when he files a replying affidavit.

But Nyhonyha’s version is supported not only by the emails, invoices and backdated contract annexed to his affidavit, but also by a Regiments bank statement which shows the symmetrical flow of R17,1 million from Techpro to Regiments and Regiments to the Gupta company on two consecutive days.

When the R17,1 million washed up at TNA, it not only swelled the Guptas’ purse but gave the clearest indication yet that they were the true beneficiaries of the Homix kickback laundry.

The backdated contract, perhaps carelessly in retrospect, tied the R17.1 million payment to the second Transnet CCTV contract. The amount also ties back neatly back to it.

Neotel records show that it recognised R150 million in revenue immediately on getting the contract from Transnet.

R17,1 million — R15 million excluding VAT — is a round 10% of that first year’s revenue.

And so, when the R17,1 million washed up at TNA, it not only swelled the Guptas’ purse but gave the clearest indication yet they may have been the true beneficiaries of the Homix kickback laundry.

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Responses

Narayan and Essa did not respond to requests for comment.

Wood said via a spokesperson: “Suffice to say that all of the allegations made by his former partners are strenuously denied and will be comprehensively traversed in his answer to the court papers which his attorneys are presently preparing on his behalf and which will be filed in short order.

“It would be improper and possibly prejudicial to his case to answer your questions prior to the filing of his answer.”

He also said he “would advise that these matters” be left to an independent investigation led by Advocate Geoff Budlender, appointed by Trillian chair Tokyo Sexwale.

“As you can imagine it is quite a shock getting this kind of information and we’ve sent it to [our attorneys] to investigate further.”

Techpro manager Craig Smith said about the allegations contained in the court papers: “As you can imagine it is quite a shock getting this kind of information and we’ve sent it to [our attorneys] to investigate further.”

He added: “Whether the insinuations that you are making are true or not true I don’t know…. If there is wrongdoing we want to know about it.”

Neotel chair Kennedy Memani said that during the company’s initial investigation the board “took all the necessary steps on the basis of what came out”.

He said he did not want “to go back to that debate … unless anything else comes out”.

A Transnet spokesperson said the company was “confident in its processes… In addition, Transnet was advised by Neotel that an independent investigation commissioned by Neotel revealed no wrongdoing or corruption by Transnet or any of our executives”.

“Please note that Homix is not a Transnet supplier. All matters related to Homix should be directed to Neotel. Transnet has never engaged with Homix or its executives.”

He said the confinement of the CCTV contracts was justified by Transnet’s urgent need to replace outdated CCTV equipment to comply with international standards and not lose its status as a ports authority. Neotel was chosen as service provider as the existing infrastructure belonged to Neotel and “the need to integrate new and existing equipment and systems was crucial”.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more. Sign up for its newsletter to get more.

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