Ramaphosa, Zuma-Gupta: same game, different players

 With the National Prosecuting Authority as weak and incapacitated as it is after years of assault by the governing party, the State Capture Commission looks set to be a “Corruption TRC” when what we really need is a government clean-out.
That’s why voting for the corruption-free DA on 8 May is such a crucial assault on corruption.

This week, President Ramaphosa’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, admitted that he received over R2 million from Bosasa as a monthly retainer fee starting in December 2017, the month his father was elected ANC president.

President Ramaphosa has admitted knowledge of this “business relationship” and has also admitted that Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson “donated” R500 000 towards his ANC presidential election campaign.

Let’s cut the quotation marks and call these payments what they really are: sweeteners and bribes.

There is no substantive difference between the nature of the Ramaphosa-Bosasa relationship and that of Zuma-Gupta.

The Zuma-Gupta relationship had more time to play itself out and therefore involves the syphoning off of a lot more public money. But the difference is one of degree and timing, not of kind.

We’re watching the same game here, but with different players.

Bosasa is a company that has been bribing ANC politicians for the last two decades. Bosasa contracts with the ANC government total over R10 billion.

The details of this corrupt relationship have been reported on in the media over the years, and much of the information was exposed in a detailed SIU report a decade ago.

Like Zuma-Gupta, the Ramaphosa-Bosasa relationship follows the standard ANC modus operandi: the ANC-in-government (e.g. Department of Correctional Services) gives lucrative tenders to the ANC-in-business (e.g. Bosasa) which in return funds the ANC-as-a-political-party (or one or both of its factions).

This has enabled an ANC-connected elite to enrich themselves while also entrenching their political power to facilitate ongoing elite enrichment. This is profoundly anti-democratic, deeply corrupt, and unequivocally against the public interest.

Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi told the State Capture Inquiry that Bosasa paid out an estimated R70 million in bribes between 2006 and 2016, and that he knows of large “donations” of R10 million and R12 million given to the ANC top six.

It is simply inconceivable that the R500 000 “donation” to Ramaphosa wasn’t a bribe.

It is strongly in the national interest that President Cyril Ramaphosa appears before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture before the national elections on 8 May 2019. I have this week written to Commission Chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to urge that he does so.

Our country faces severe crises on multiple fronts. South Africans have a critically important once-in-five-year opportunity to bring change.

So we all need to know the full truth about the nature of the relationship between the Ramaphosa family and Bosasa. This information is integral to the decision we face and therefore integral to our nation’s future wellbeing.

President Ramaphosa’s actions in relation to these revelations are not those of a man with nothing to hide. On the contrary, he has ducked and dived in an attempt to gloss over or conceal the truth from Parliament, the media and the people of South Africa.

In an answer to my oral question in Parliament in November 2018, asking President Ramaphosa to explain the payment of R500 000 by Bosasa to his son, Ramaphosa claimed the payment was for consulting work rendered by his Andile to Bosasa, and that he had seen the contract himself.

This information turned out to be false and the R500 000 was in fact a “donation” (laundered bribe) to his CR17 campaign. This breach of the Executive Ethics Act led me to submit a complaint to the Public Protector.

More recently, when I have asked Ramaphosa further questions in Parliament, he has refused to answer them, on the grounds that the matter is being dealt with by the Public Protector. In doing so, he displays a blatant disregard for the constitutional oversight role of Parliament. That a matter is with the Public Protector does not in any way absolve him of his constitutional obligation to account to Parliament.

It should be extremely concerning to all of us that: Ramaphosa considers it acceptable for his son to receive money from a company notorious for conducting a deeply corrupt relationship with his party over the course of two decades; that he lied to Parliament; that his son has received over R2 million so far; and that he has used Zuma-style evasion tactics to avoid accountability.

We all need to know the full truth about the Ramaphosa-Bosasa relationship, and we need to know it before 8 May. Because the sooner we put an end to this system of corrupt elite enrichment, the sooner we can start building a South Africa where opportunities are open to all, rather than to the connected few.

Warm regards,

Mmusi Maimane
DA Leader
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