DAYS OF ZONDO
Newly stepped-aside KZN deputy chair Michael Mabuyakhulu denies benefiting from ANC donation money
ANC KwaZulu-Natal political heavyweight Michael Mabuyakhulu told the State Capture Commission that a R1-million donation he received was solely for party activities and not in exchange for provincial tenders, as alleged by forensic auditor Trevor White.
On Wednesday evening, newly stepped-down ANC KwaZulu-Natal deputy chairperson Michael Mabuyakhulu told the Zondo commission that he never benefited from the R1-million donated to the provincial ANC in 2008.
“That money went to the ANC, I did not benefit from it,” said Mabuyakhulu.
In keeping with the ANC’s step-aside guidelines, Mabuyakhulu stood down as the deputy chairperson the day before he appeared before the Zondo commission.
Trevor White, a forensic auditor who has previously appeared before the commission, said the R1-million donation had been paid to the ANC by a Uruguayan businessman through the former head of the KZN treasury, Sipho Shabalala, allegedly in exchange for a government tender.
On Wednesday, Mabuyakhulu told the commission that in June 2008, Shabalala arrived at the KZN ANC offices and gave him R1-million in cash for what Mabuyakhulu claims was for the upcoming provincial conference later that month.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked Mabuyakhulu whether Shabalala had brought the money in a bag, and what processes Mabuyakhulu had thereafter followed.
“I can’t precisely recall the finer details, as this happened more than 10 years ago… so I can’t remember whether it was in a bag or a plastic bag,” said Mabuyakhulu.
Zondo also asked whether Shabalala had made it clear that he was making the donation on behalf of someone else. Mabuyakhulu replied that Shabalala did not say that, therefore he assumed the donation had come from the former KZN treasury head.
Mabuyakhulu could not elaborate on the process he followed after receiving the R1-million in cash because he couldn’t remember, but what he did recall was that, “I needed to compile a report for the ANC to account for the money received and how it was used.”
Inquiring about this report, evidence leader Garth Hulley asked whether there was a detailed breakdown of where the donations came from and what the money was used for. Mabuyakhulu said that the details of the donations would not be in the report given to the party, but that the party top five were privy to those details. We didn’t give them those details in writing, it was often provided verbally, said Mabuyakhulu.
Mabuyakhulu, who maintained that he did nothing wrong, said that he looked forward to cross-examining White on the allegations that he benefited from the R1-million donation.
Mabuyakhulu said White’s allegations were “baseless” and had caused him “reputational damage”.
White’s testimony implicated Mabuyakhulu and Shababala in corruption connected with provincial tenders. Twenty-one officials were charged, but the charges against Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyane, a KZN official, were dropped despite there being sufficient evidence to prosecute, said White.
At present, nine are facing charges, including Shabalala and his wife, Beatrice.
The charges involve a R144-million irregular procurement scandal that saw a Cape-Town-based businessman, Gaston Savoi, benefit from various contracts with the department of health in KZN and local municipalities.
In another case of corruption, Mabuyakhulu will be in court in September for allegedly defrauding provincial coffers of about R28-million by paying for a jazz festival that never materialised.
As the commission continues and the ruling party battles with the rampant corruption in its provincial and national structures, party members have been asked to step aside as their corruption cases are dealt with. DM