Ex-South Africa President Zuma Linked to New Bribes Scandal

By Bloomberg 28 January 2019
Former South African president Jacob Zuma sits in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg on July 27, 2018 for his hearing over 16 corruption charges. Photographer: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Jacob Zuma, who quit as South African president last year after being implicated in a string of scandals, is facing fresh allegations that he took bribes from services company Bosasa to shield it from prosecution and advance its business interests.

Angelo Agrizzi, Bosasa’s chief operating officer from 1999 to 2016, told a judicial inquiry that’s probing graft during Zuma’s rule how the company agreed to pay 300,000 rand ($22,000) a month to his charitable foundation in return for protection from prosecution. Bosasa Chief Executive Officer Gavin Watson gave the money to Dudu Myeni, the foundation’s chairwoman, according to Agrizzi. The former COO said he counted the cash and was present when several payments were made.

“Surely if it’s for a foundation you would do an electronic funds transfer? Why would you you want it in cash?” Agrizzi said. “I don’t think the foundation got anything.”

Zuma, 76, is already on trial for taking bribes from arms dealers in the late 1990s and has been accused of allowing members of the Gupta family, who were in business with his son, to influence government contracts and cabinet appointments. Zuma, his son and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

Besides Zuma, a number of senior ruling African National Congress officials have been implicated in taking bribes, which could further damage its reputation ahead of elections in May. The ANC, now headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has said individuals who engaged in wrongdoing acted in their personal capacity and has called on them to testify.

Ramaphosa Donation

Bosasa, now named African Global Operations, made headlines late last year when it emerged that it had donated 500,000 rand to Ramaphosa’s campaign to win control of the ANC. Ramaphosa initially denied any knowledge of the donation and then said he had inadvertently given incorrect information to parliament about it and undertook to repay the money.

In his testimony, Agrizzi said Myeni, who served as chairwoman of South African Airways from 2012 to 2017, would often ask Watson to arrange functions for Zuma and his family, which cost about 3.5 million rand a year.

He alleged that Watson and Bosasa executive Joe Gumede told him they visited Zuma at his rural home in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province and handed him 300,000 rand in a bag because they were worried that Myeni wasn’t turning over the full monthly payments — a concern the then-president said was unfounded.

Quash Probe

Zuma then arranged a meeting between members of the police’s Hawks investigative unit and Gumede to discuss allegations that Bosasa, which supplied catering, security and other services, used illicit methods to secure government contracts, Agrizzi said.

Agrizzi also testified that he and Watson met with Myeni at a Pretoria hotel, where she told them she was trying to quash a probe into Bosasa and supplied them with the police case docket. Watson asked her to urgently discuss the matter with Zuma, he said.

The inquiry, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, began public hearings in August last year and has two years to complete its work.

Read more about how the kingpins behind the looting may evade justice.

Zuma’s spokesman, Vukile Mathabela, referred queries to Myeni, who said in a text message that she couldn’t comment for the former president and would respond to the allegations against her once Agrizzi had completed his testimony.

Bosasa’s spokesman, Papa Leshabane, didn’t answer calls seeking comment. The Hawks have said their investigations into Bosasa are complete and they are now waiting for prosecutors to decide how to proceed with the case. DM


Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!

No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.

Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.

It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.

But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.

So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.


Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.


The dawning of the Age of Ace – sort of, kinda, maybe

By Stephen Grootes

"Heroes. Idols. They're never who you think they are. Shorter. Nastier. Smellier. And when you finally meet them there's something that makes you want to choke the shit out of them." ~ Paul Beatty