South Africa

Days of Zondo

Gwede Mantashe tells State Capture Commission he was never ‘amenable’ to bribes

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources in Parliament during the debate on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a joint sitting of the national Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams/Gallo Images, Cape Town, 21 October 2020

Former ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, told the Zondo Commission on Friday night that it never occurred to him that the installation of high-end security cameras at three of his properties, allegedly paid for by Bosasa, could be seen as a potential backhand, because he was “not amenable to bribes”.

Mantashe was responding to questions from evidence leader Viwe Notshe (SC) about accepting the installations from then Bosasa director Papa Leshabane.

Mantashe said that the ANC’s former security head, Mzonke Nyakaza, had been told by Leshabane that he was able to provide “superior” security cameras to the ones Nyakaza had already bought from a retailer for Mantashe’s home in Boksburg in 2013. Mantashe said additional security was necessary as the house had been broken into on more than one occasion. Mantashe was ANC secretary-general at the time.

“Those cameras helped us stop danger on two occasions in Boksburg,” he said.

Mantashe said *he had also had security equipment installed at his Eastern Cape properties, including his farm, three years later, “having seen the success of the cameras in Boksburg”.

It was Nyakaza and Leshabane who had dealt with the security installations in the Eastern Cape homes, he said, and that Nyakaza had already clarified that Leshabane had offered to pay for the equipment.

“I was kept out of the details of security, and the security advisor [took care of that]. Papa Leshabane would have made arrangements with the security team for the Eastern Cape [properties]. Mzonke Nyakaza was dealing with the security details, without involving me.”

Mantashe described Leshabane as a family friend, someone who was in and out of his home. He did not view him as a representative of Bosasa, he said.

When asked if he knew Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, who died in August 2019, Mantashe said:

“I knew who Gavin Watson was because we crossed [paths] in my life as a trade unionist, when he wanted contracts with mines. He was bribing shop stewards at the time for catering at hostels. And I said ‘no, we are not going to have any of that’.”

It was shortly after this that Notshe  had asked if he was not concerned that because Leshabane was working for Watson, that Letshabane’s offer to install the security cameras, without seeking payment, could also be seen as a bribe.

“I am not amenable to bribes. I was known for that [in my days as a trade unionist] and I am known for that now,” Mantashe said.

Notshe suggested that since Mantashe was, by his own account, not amenable to taking bribes, he would also know not to take gifts.

Mantashe, in attempting to respond to this, answered in a characteristically curt manner:

“If you run a project, and in a collective situation, of a family agreement, people may make a contribution, it happens from time to time [accepting of a gift]. For example, if a boy goes for initiation, I give them a cow. That is not a bribe. It’s how we relate to one another in a social arrangement at a family level.”

To which Notshe responded:

“And even now, if someone gives you a present and you know the background of that person, you would refuse those presents?”

“If I am offered a present now, I would declare it, because I am a minister.”

“And you would refuse the present if you knew the background of the giver, am I right?” pressed Nalane.

“Yes,” said Mantashe.

Watson, Bosasa and several of the company’s executives have been implicated, via testimony of former executive Angelo Agrizzi, in large-scale looting that allegedly involved bribing ministers and high-ranking officials for lucrative contracts in the Department of Correctional Services.

Then Bosasa employee Richard le Roux confirmed some of Agrizzi’s allegations during his testimony at the commission. Le Roux said he personally supervised camera installation at the homes of ministers and officials, and that Leshabane had ordered him to do the work.

Le Roux and Agrizzi estimated the security equipment to have been worth between R300,000 and R600,000.

Mantashe was granted permission in 2019 by Justice Zondo to cross-examine Agrizzi and Le Roux. DM

*A sentence in this article was amended at 7.15 pm on Saturday, 20 March 2021, to accurately reflect Mantashe’s testimony about installations.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bryan Macpherson says:

    “not amenable to bribes” is not the same as saying I never took bribes. Gwede, the law is catching up with you!

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    So is he saying he wasn’t “amenable to bribes” but gifts were OK (in this case from an employee of someone he knew to be a bribe giver)? And what about his stupid analogy that him giving a cow to an initiate is the same as an ANC official getting a gift from a state service provider.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    You are a sham from start to finish with this cover-up story. No minister should be taking gifts from crooks unless for entrapment. Why have you not immediately given back the gifts since they are likely, in the light of day, to be seen as bribes? Is making amends not ANC policy?

  • P G Muller says:

    Gwede typifies the notion “how do you know when a politician is lying ……?”
    He sat at Zuma table …dined and wined with the implicated ….what a sham !

    PS “when his lips move.”

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