2019 ELECTION

Swerve on Survé: R1m donation falls foul of ANC factional strife

By Marianne Merten 8 May 2019
Caption
Iqbal Survé, Executive Chairman, Sekunjalo Investments.

On the eve of Election Day, the Western Cape ANC announced it would return a donation it had accepted just two days earlier from Iqbal Survé and his Sekunjalo Investment Holdings company. Sekunjalo has controversially benefited from Public Investment Corporation investments. This egg-on-face situation happened as factional interests compete on the campaign trail. In another twist, Survé hit back, fingering Deputy Finance Minister and PIC chairperson Mondli Gungubele as being behind the move.

Officially, Western Cape ANC officials and party elections chief Ebrahim Rasool had a chance to review the Sekunjalo donation only on Tuesday. The meeting decided against it and told ANC treasurer Maurencia Gillion to immediately return the donation.

We had no time to do such an assessment or to consider how such a donation would be perceived, given the revelations made at the commission of inquiry regarding the Public Investment Corporation (PIC),” said acting ANC Western Cape chairperson Khaya Magaxa on Tuesday. This was a clear reference to the PIC inquiry into a series of questionable investment decisions by the government-owned asset manager, which controls some R2-trillion in government employees’ pensions and social savings.

The PIC inquiry President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted continues to probe a series of controversial investment decisions and potential political influence. Among investment transactions under scrutiny are at least three involving Survé and Independent Media, Sagarmatha and AYO Technology Solutions. The PIC told MPs in 2018 it was withdrawing from the Independent Media investment, and on 29 March 2019 it also announced that after a court order it would proceed to recover the invested R4.3-billion from AYO.

When Survé testified before the PIC inquiry in early April 2019 he defended these investment decisions and instead called on the PIC to do more to transform the economy.

On Tuesday, Magaxa told Daily Maverick he had learnt of the donation only on Monday, and called Tuesday’s meeting after confirming the inquiry into the PIC had not yet completed its proceedings. Tuesday’s meeting determined “it won’t be proper for the ANC to accept it”.

We can not take a donation from a donor which is not clear … which has the possibility of undermining the ANC.”

Unofficially, of course, the acceptance of the donation by Survé and his Sekunjalo company was reversed only after efforts by the faction of the ANC uncomfortable with it. It is understood that this not only included calls to various ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) members, but also national ANC deployees to the Western Cape from the National Executive Committee (NEC).

But Maxaga declined to be drawn on the factionalism in the Western Cape ANC.

I don’t want to develop a conspiracy theory around this. One among us may have been played … The fact is that I was not given details of this whole donation and I had to rely on media reports.”

Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs, who was present at the event at a V&A Waterfront restaurant on Sunday to mark the donation, could not be reached for comment.

While the ANC statement announcing the return of the donation due to the cloud over the donor and his companies was rather mildly put, Cosatu did not mince its words when it welcomed the ANC decision.

Damning allegations of corruption, poor governance have been aired at the (PIC) commission. Dr Survé and his companies have been at the centre of many allegations raised at the commission … Accepting a donation from Dr Survé before the commission has had a chance to address very serious allegations would undermine the ANC’s commitment to a new dawn and clean governance,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

But Survé and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings on Tuesday said there had been “no formal communication” regarding the return of the donation.

On the contrary, we have been advised by ANC officials in the Western Cape that the money has already been disbursed to all the regions …”

Instead, the statement by Survé and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings said they had been informed the instruction to return the donation had come from Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele, who chairs the PIC.

We see this effort by Mr Gungubele for what it is — nothing but a deliberate attempt to tarnish the reputation of Sekunjalo and Dr Survé. It is our understanding that Mr Gungubele has done so without having agreement for the officials of the ANC in the Western Cape.”

The statement goes on about the “regrettable” conduct and “a personal and political vendetta” ascribed to Gungubele.

Dr Survé is confident that we have the support of Democrats in holding to account those in power like Mr Gungubele, who abuse their position to fight personal and political vendettas.”

An urgent meeting with the Western Cape ANC, after election day, will be sought to discuss all this, the statement by Survé and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings concludes.

This all is a far cry from the jocund, wine- and food-fuelled bonhomie of Sunday’s function to mark a donation that had been requested by a senior member of the ANC. It was attended by Jacobs, Rasool, the election co-ordinators from all Western Cape regions and representatives of the women’s and youth leagues.

The donation, it was announced, would go to ensure ANC volunteers had food and that there was transport to voting stations. Rasool told the meeting the “New Dawn (of Ramaphosa) had not come with a budget” and that being able to provide food and transport for volunteers had ensured that over the past year numbers grew from 5,000 to 15,000. The donation would ensure action for the ANC on election day.

On Sunday, Survé said the donation came without any expectations as it was important to strengthen democracy.

It’s important to get people from outlying areas to come to voting stations. I’ve never hidden the fact I support the ANC …”

Provincial ANC treasurer Gillion was profuse in thanking Survé for his “unconditional support to the ANC”. Now she must return the donation.

ANC PEC spokesperson Lionel Adendorf put on a positive spin:

Our plans (and budget) have been made long before this donation. Our volunteers will have food and voters are being transported to voting stations,” he told Daily Maverick, adding that returning the donation was the right decision.

This is the real ANC in the Western Cape, making sure the decisions we make are credible and correct for all voters to see.”

But it’s been an embarrassment, this public exposé of the Western Cape ANC factions just weeks ahead of a provincial conference — and perhaps more importantly, less than 24 hours ahead of the 8 May vote. DM

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