The South African Federation of Trade Unions has noted the public outrage and shock at the damning allegations of corruption from Angelo Agrizzi, former Chief Operating Officer of Bosasa, now trading as Africa Global Operations, at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
The federation fully shares the outrage at this blatant and widespread looting of public resources for self-enrichment, but is not surprised, since these shocking revelations confirm what we have been saying since the ‘state capture’ scandal broke – that corruption has never been confined to a small group of politicians, public officials and private firms, grouped around the Gupta family.
Whilst SAFTU has always vehemently condemned the Guptas’ appalling levels of corruption in the public service, we have insisted that corruption is far more prevalent and rampant in the private sector where it is an inherent feature of a monopolised capitalist system.
The Guptas and their cohorts were themselves soon shown to have been linked to big multinational corporations – KPMG, McKinsey, SAP and Bell Pottinger. We pointed to the Steinhoff fraud scandal which was completely unrelated to the Guptas, but led to the same sort of theft from the poor.
Now Agrizzi’s revelations have shown dramatically a case of widespread, systematic and routine use of bribery and corruption by a private company, and its CEO Gavin Watson; yet, so far, the name ‘Gupta’ has not even been mentioned in evidence.
More evidence is coming out daily and more is forecast, of Bosasa bribing politicians and public officials to win contracts. These names confirm the point that SAFTU made its launching congress, that the ANC leadership as whole is rotten to the core not this or that faction. To demonstrate this you don’t have to look further than the top 6. Their ‘new dawn’ propaganda has been exposed for what it is just a gimmick to pool wool on the eyes of voters!
What has clearly emerged from Agrizzi’s input is how routine, shameless and ‘normal’ the corruption has been. The Commission was shown videos of bank notes being counted out and packed into specially coded grey bags for delivery at places like the Mugg & Bean. The bag of cash would be hidden inside a folder or a newspaper.
Agrizzi also kept a record of payments in a little black book, left in a safe in the vaults at Bosasa’s Krugersdorp offices. Other fraudulent activities included setting up front companies, some of which would submit bogus tenders to give the illusion that there was a competitive contest for contracts.
All this largely went unnoticed for many years until journalist Adriaan Basson in 2009 published an article in the Mail & Guardian alleging “a highly improper relationship between the Department of Correctional Services and controversial facilities management group Bosasa”.
Bosasa instituted a legal action for defamation against Basson but lost with costs. But that did not lead to any improvement in their conduct. The bribes continued to arrive in the grey bags.
However the SIU and NPA opened a case, targeting former DCS national commissioner Linda Mti, who was allegedly one of Bosasa’s main beneficiaries. He eventually resigned to protect his pension, before having to appear in court.
In the most scandalous twist in the story yet, Bosasa and the DCS leaders then met to discuss how they could “sort out” NPA officials to help Mti. They decided to make monthly payments to three NPA officials – Nomgcobo Jiba (R100 000), Lawrence Mrwebi (R10 000) and Jacqueline Lampinka (R20 000).
In return they arranged to supply Mti, and through him Bosasa, with confidential NPA documents about the case against Mti.
By coincidence Jiba and Mrwebi are currently appearing before a separate inquiry into their fitness to hold office in the NPA, based on other cases including their withdrawal charges against former Crime Intelligence head, Richard Mdluli.
This evidence talks to how state institutions including the NPA were hollowed out. It is no surprise that the people behind the Vrede dairy farm scandal have their charges withdrawn and no wonder that in the past 25 years only one ANC provincial chairperson has been convicted yet billions and billions have been stolen from the public purse.
The facts revealed by Agrizzi are bad enough but even more appalling is the response of the ANC, which confirms SAFTU’s view that the former liberation movement has been utterly corrupted and paralyzed with divisions.
The ANC promised the country in its conference in 2012 that it will no longer stand idle whilst its image was soiled by its leaders and members. We were told of a new beginning and of a new tough stance against corruption. An integrity commission was appointed and there was big talk that those implicated in corruption would be forced to step aside until they are cleared.
Under the so-called ‘new dawn’, the ANC has reverted to its original position that has been effectively used to shield the corrupt. We are told nothing will happen to all of the people mentioned by Agrizzi until there is irrefutable evidence against them and they have been proven guilty by a court of law.
The problem the ANC is facing is expressed in a phrase “what about?”
How would they ever act when its former President, Jacob Zuma, now facing corruption, money laundering, racketeering and fraud charges plays such an important role in their election campaign?
What about its current President, Cyril Ramaphosa who wilfully misled and lied in parliament over the R500 000 Bosasa donation scandal?
What about the Deputy President, David Mabuza, who has been dogged by controversy, involving allegations pillaging and even of the murder of whistle blowers and political opponents whilst he was the chairperson of the ANC in Mpumalanga?
What about its very new current chairperson who is also allegedly a beneficiary and a recipient of Bosasa’s generosity?
What about both of its Secretary Generals’ alleged links to the Gupta looting?
What about the head of its election campaign recently condemned by the report of the Public Protector? We can go on and on to demonstrate that it has become a question of who is not corrupt in the leadership of the ANC.
Where is the ANC integrity commission and where does it start?
SAFTU demands the SIU and NPA immediately open cases against all those named by Agrizzi, as well as those already exposed in the former Public Protector’s ‘The State of Capture’ report, the SACC’s ‘Betrayal of the Dream’, OUTA’s ‘President Caught in the Act’, Gupta emails, Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers’ and other sources, plus those still to be named by Agrizzi and other witnesses who are still to appear before the Commission.
There must be no question of waiting until the Commission has issued its report, which could be as much as two years from now, before starting to prosecute those many individuals and companies against whom there is already prima facie of criminality.
SAFTU calls for the Commission’s mandate be extended to cover all forms of corruption and related crimes – tax-evasion, price-fixing, tender collusion and laundering money into tax-havens. Both the Steinhoff and now Bosasa affairs have given a glimpse into the way the ‘respectable’ capitalist exploiters have acted no differently from the Guptas, even if not quite so blatantly