South Africa

Daily Maverick 168

Luthuli House shivers as anti-graft drive hits its doorstep with Vincent Smith’s arrest

Luthuli House shivers as anti-graft drive hits its doorstep with Vincent Smith’s arrest
Vincent Smith during a media briefing after the party’s parliamentary caucus on November 15, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais)

Former ANC MP Vincent Smith has been charged with corruption; he won’t be the last.

First published in Daily Maverick 168

Just before he became the first senior ANC politician to be charged with corruption this week, the former ANC MP Vincent Smith was writing the party’s submission to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. His indictment on a series of charges and appearance in the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court this week has signalled a new turn in the prosecution of State Capture. Smith has pleaded not guilty. 

But his work immediately before his appearance reveals that the ANC is crafting its defence against numerous State Capture inquiry testimonies for which it stands accused. 

The target is now at the ANC’s door and further charges are likely to be brought against politicians. 

This week, joint teams of the crack police squad, the Hawks, with the Investigating Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority, made State Capture- and corruption-related arrests in three provinces – Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. In charges related to the Free State R255- million asbestos audit corruption case, eight people were arrested. 

Until Smith, charges have been brought only against civil servants or tenderpreneurs – the term used to describe businesspeople who do business largely with the state and who then fund the ANC. Smith’s charges relate to cash he received from Bosasa for his daughter’s offshore university education. 

The arrest of a high-ranking tenderpreneur who operated in several provinces is also likely to reveal the nexus between the state tender system and ANC party political funding. 

Tender tycoon Edwin Sodi was arrested on 30 September, a day after giving damning sworn testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, in which it emerged that his company had personally funded Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi (allegedly to be passed on to a charity) and State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa (who was short of cash) and that payments had been made to ANC party treasurers-general Zweli Mkhize and Paul Mashatile. 

One of the Free State accused was seen in a hoodie being led into a VW Golf GTI by four Hawks; it wasn’t an orange overall but the grey hoodie, drawn tight to obscure his face, now may be the symbol that the era of impunity for corruption is on the wane. 

In Bloemfontein on Friday, a well-organised group protested as eight people, including Sodi, provincial housing bureaucrats and the former Mangaung mayor, Olly Mlamleli, faced 60 charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering. 

These related to a housing asbestos audit provided by Sodi and other subcontractors for R255-million and in which the provincial housing department was fleeced, it has now emerged. Part of those funds found their way into the ANC coffers, as Sodi’s testimony revealed this week. 

The protesters carried professionally printed posters supporting Mlamleli emblazoned in black, green and gold. The posters were clearly marked with the ANC symbol and identified as belonging to the RET Forces Free State.  The RET Forces are a code for a faction associated with the former president Jacob Zuma and the acronym stands for Radical Economic Transformation. 

The charges facing the eight all relate to the administration of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule as Free State premier. The charge sheet indicting Smith suggests that politicians will be charged for abrogation of duty in their terms of office, in addition to charges of personal aggrandisement, which is likely to ring alarm bells for the party strongman.

This weekend, the ANC NEC is meeting to discuss the economic, jobs and hunger crises formally, but it is unlikely to be able to avoid discussing the various leaders who have been in the crosshairs this week, either those facing charges or the allegations raised at the hearings of the State Capture inquiry. In a special NEC meeting to confront corruption in the party in August, the ANC decided that leaders facing charges should “step aside” and those who were named in various forums (including commissions and the media) should present themselves to the party’s Integrity Commission.

Magashule has been summoned by the Integrity Commission and that precedent now requires the same for Kodwa, Nxesi and ANC MP Cedric Frolick, who defended himself on Bosasa-related allegations at the State Capture inquiry this week. Like Smith, Frolick is also implicated in Bosasa-linked corruption to assist their facilities management business empire; he has denied all the claims against him. 

In addition, there is a double standard at work in the ANC on action against corruption that needs to be ironed out. In Gauteng, Premier David Makhura, who also chairs the party in the province, has overseen action against Health MEC Bandile Masuku and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, both of whom have been forced to take leave pending the investigation of their roles in PPE corruption.

In other provinces, the party is sticking to a less stringent method – that cadres only step aside once charged. The Mpumalanga soccer star and ANC MP Bongani Bongo has refused to step aside even though he faces a criminal case ongoing in court. Ramaphosa now has to ensure that a single standard applies for his party campaign against graft to have credibility. DM168

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  • Paul Caiger says:

    Might as well arrest the entire ANC leadership , the ANC provincial and municipal officers for corruption , incompetence and treason against the country . Lock them up and throw away the key. Tell me Gwedi Mantasha, NDZ , Ramaposa and Duarte didn’t know about their corrupt comrades and the money pouring into the ANC coffers. They are the real rotten core of the ANC apple. and until they go nothing will change.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      Right. There are NO GOOD anc members. Peter Bruce got it wrong. So did all those who voted for the “good” anc member, Cyril Ramaphosa. The strength of our democracy is now at risk, and it is the only thing between us and a right-wing totalitarian fascist government.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    This eventually positive development in SA makes one wonder if the same process will take place in the US when Trump is removed from office (or hopefully dies from the corona virus)…given that the attorney general (who likened wearing face masks to slavery!) and Mitch who prevented Trump’s finalisation of his ‘impeachment’ ?

  • Coen Gous says:

    Lithuli House is NOT parlement, nor a church, not the Union Buildings. Its a house where criminals congregate, let by someone called ACE, to plan fraudulent exercises to enrich themselves. Those in charge: 1. AceMagashule 2. Rest of ANC employees

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