South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO, PART FOUR

Zizi Kodwa’s deputy minister job ‘untenable’ while beholden to corruption-accused

African National Congress spokesperson Zizi Kodwa addresses the media during the 54th ANC National Conference held at the NASREC Convention Centre, Johannesburg , South Africa, 16 December 2017.. EPA-EFE/CORNELL TUKIRI

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has recommended President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘consider’ Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa’s job after finding he was financially beholden to EOH’s Jehan Mackay, who faces a string of corruption allegations.

When Zizi Kodwa testified at the State Capture Commission in June 2021, he said his job as deputy state security minister, with a salary of almost R2-million a year, could not be categorised as secure employment as he could be removed at any time. That moment has likely come.

In part four of the report from the State Capture Commission, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo recommended President Cyril Ramaphosa “consider” Kodwa’s position in regards to the debts he owes to Jehan Mackay, a former executive at tech giant EOH who is accused of bribing politicians and paying donations to the ANC to win lucrative government contracts.

Zondo found that in 2015 and 2016 EOH entities and Mackay made cash payments totalling R1,68-million for Kodwa’s benefit, including a R1-million loan, which Kodwa used to buy a car, and hundreds of thousands spent on luxury accommodation. Mackay spent another R30,000 on Kodwa’s behalf.

The deputy minister, who was the ANC’s national spokesperson when he received the payments, told the commission that Mackay was a friend and the loan came with no strings attached.

He hadn’t made any repayments on the R1-million loan due to his insecure employment, he claimed. Kodwa said he thought Mackay owned the luxury properties where he was hosted.

Zondo made multiple recommendations to law enforcement agencies to investigate Mackay and his colleagues for corruption, leaving Kodwa in “an impossible position”.

“It is untenable for the Deputy Minister of State Security to find himself in a position where he is beholden to a suspect in multiple criminal investigations,” reads the report.

Zizi Kodwa gives a speech during his birthday party at the Radisson Blu hotel on January 20, 2018 in Sandton, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / John Liebenberg)

Zondo found no evidence of impropriety on Kodwa’s behalf but he noted that the commission was not able to investigate what the deputy minister may or may not have done due to time constraints.

Mackay regularly tried to engage Kodwa about tenders EOH hoped to win and donations to the ANC.

“Whatever the subjective intentions of Mr Kodwa, it is clear that Mr Jehan Mackay was attempting to buy influence by making the ‘loans’ that he made to Mr Kodwa and by providing Mr Kodwa with luxury accommodation. Mr Jehan Mackay repeatedly attempted to engage Mr Kodwa in relation to pending EOH Group tenders,” said Zondo.

The chief justice described the commission’s investigation into EOH as “a unique case”. When Stephen van Coller became CEO in 2018, he appointed law firm ENS to conduct a forensic investigation into its public sector contracts.

It handed the findings over to Zondo, who said no other company has offered the commission so much assistance.

The commission focused on two contracts the City of Johannesburg awarded to EOH subsidiaries in 2014 and 2016 worth R109-million and R404-million respectively.

There is clear, documented evidence linking those contracts to donations to the ANC and politicians, particularly former mayor Geoff Makhubo, who died in 2021 after contracting Covid-19.

Zondo outlined how the city awarded Mackay’s TSS, an EOH subsidiary, the R109-million network and security infrastructure upgrade contract after TSS submitted an unsolicited proposal. At the same time, EOH donated millions to the Joburg ANC and other ANC bodies.

The payments were largely made through EOH executive Patrick Makhubedu and some went directly to Makhubo’s company Molelwane Consulting. Zondo also named Makhubo’s business partner Reno Barrie as a collaborator.

“The evidence described above leads inexorably to the conclusion that Mr Makhubedu, Mr Barrie and Mr Makhubo conspired to procure the improper acceptance by the City of the 16 April 2014 unsolicited proposal form TSS Managed Services for the provision of network infrastructure and security services to the value of over R100-million,” said Zondo.

The City of Johannesburg’s R404-million with EOH contract was tainted from the moment it was advertised in 2015. Correspondence between Makhubo and EOH officials revealed how the former ANC Johannesburg treasurer pushed the company for donations ahead of the 2016 local government elections while EOH pushed back, hoping to get the contracts signed.

EOH subsidiaries and its intermediaries made various payments to Makhubo’s company and donations to the ANC throughout the process, including R16-million towards the party’s election campaign.

Zondo said former EOH executives and associates Makhubedu, Barrie, Makhubo, Mackay, Ebrahim Laher and Nyiko Mutileni had “conspired to procure the improper award to EOH Mthombo” and recommended law enforcement agencies investigate with a view of prosecution.

EOH has indicated that it wants to repay the state for the ill-gotten gains it received from tainted contracts. It has initiated legal action against a range of former executives to recoup some of its losses. DM

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