The South African Federation of Trade Unions is incensed by the Public Protector’s report that former sports minister Fikile Mbalula asked Yusuf Dockrat, the director of Sedgars Sport, a supplier to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), to help him pay for a private trip to Dubai, which cost more than R684,000.
Busisiwe Mkhweban claims that Mbalula had made the journey without paying for it first and that he appeared to have had no idea how much it would cost. It was “very irresponsible of him as he could not determine whether he could afford it… His conduct in travelling to Dubai without paying for the trip exposed him to the risk of conflict between his official responsibilities and his private family interests.
It was only after the trip, when Mbalula could not pay for it and the travel agent demanded payment, that Dockrat paid R300,000 to the agency on Mbalula’s behalf, in what as described as a “loan agreement”
The Public protector says she did not believe there was a loan agreement between the pair, even though Mbalula did repay almost all of the money. “Had the transaction not been reported in the media, Mr Mbalula would not have repaid the funds”, and it was “inappropriate” for Mbalula to enter into a “loan agreement” with Dockrat, “a director of an entity doing business with Sascoc”.
She claims that this violated the Executive Ethics Act and even the South African constitution.
This outrageous deal with a company supplying goods for events for which Mbalula’s departments was responsible, so he could fund his lavish lifestyle confirms SAFTU’s view that the web of corruption spreads even wider than already revealed, and that it is rife in the private as well as pubic sector.
It illustrates the federation’s long-held point that for every public official who receives a bribe there is a private company who pays it. As the Public Protector says: “There is absolutely no way that he could have a friend for 20 years and not know what kind of business he is running.”
SAFTU has also noted Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s finding that Western Cape premier Helen Zille violated the Executive Ethics Code by assisting her maths teacher son, Paul Maree, to loan tablets from the province’s education department, so that he could offer extra maths lessons to disadvantaged matric students in Khayalitsha and surrounding areas in 2014.
“The premier’s involvement in the process that has resulted in securing access to the tablets in question by her son, and in the acquiring of son’s company’s services and resources, has exposed her to the risk of a conflict between her official responsibilities, as a first citizen of the province, and private interests, which involved her son,” Mkhwebane said.
“This conduct of the premier has consequently resulted in the violation of her constitutional obligation to avoid an exposure to the aforesaid risk.”
Zille’s conduct, the Public Protector alleges, “had given her son an unfair advantage”.
Zille has denied that any such conflict of interest existed, as education officials were fully aware that Maree was her son and she had written an e-mail stating that the tablets should be made available to any NGOs or individuals seeking to offer extra maths training.
She is taking the report on review and SAFTU will await the findings of the court before commenting.
The federation will however continue to demand that investigations into corruption must not be confined to those already exposed and being investigated by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.
There must be a full probe into what is increasingly being exposed as an inherently corrupt capitalist system in which the principle of “Me First!” justifies corruption, fraud, the illicit transfer of funds from the country and tax avoidance, the scale of which authorities have grossly underestimated, according to two research reports. They say that it amounts to at least R7bn a year in foregone taxes, and that some of the largest multinationals are the biggest culprits.