Opinionista Paul Hoffman 13 December 2017

The hands that rocked the securocrats’ cradle

Pauw and Myburgh may regard themselves as the authors being unfairly discriminated against by the servants of the feral elite whose exploits they have chosen to chronicle. They may be on a less sticky wicket if they choose to go on the front foot for a nice cover drive or two. Either way, their sales are soaring at T20 rates.

Assuming, and one should be careful about doing so these days, that a certain Colonel Govender at the Durban North Police Station is not a figment of fake news or a fantasist on a frolic of his own, then it is passing strange that only Jacques Pauw and Pieter-Louis Myburgh have managed to qualify for a pre-Christmas invitation to join him for a chat at his place of work given that there are other books on the same topic, written by other authors, which do not seem to qualify for the same level of attention.

The topic of conversation appears to be the legality of the content of the revelatory books written by the two journalists about the ins and outs of the capture of the state. It is not entirely clear whether they are being regarded as witnesses or suspects; nor can anyone tell where a docket apparently aimed at Pauw is currently located, if it exists at all.

The mystifying matter is that there are other books on the same topic, written by other authors, which do not seem to qualify for the same level of attention as Pauw’s The President’s Keepers and Myburgh’s The Republic of Gupta. Two are worthy of mention.

The first is Crispian Olver’s How to Steal a City which Ferial Haffajee, perhaps prematurely, but nevertheless confidently, predicted would be the best book about the ANC out this year. Olver is (or was at the time) a loyal cadre of the ANC, deployed to its Regional Task Team set up to intervene in the mess in Port Elizabethan politics made by the warring ANC factions there. The team was set up with the aim of saving the city from the clutches of the serried ranks of the opposition. We all know how that ended. Along the way, the battle for Nelson Mandela Bay, Olver’s militaristic sub-title, is entertaining and illuminating reading for students of state capture at local government level.

Pravin Gordhan, deployed Olver as a civil servant in PE simultaneously with his RTT role, to help fix the messy bay administration, neither of them paying any attention to the illegality and unconstitutionality of deployment of party cadres in the public administration. Indeed, Olver is both obviously and blithely unaware of the decision in Molokoti v Amathole District Municipality in which Judge Jeremy Pickering came to the unambiguous conclusion that cadre deployment of civil servants is illegal and unconstitutional before he relieved the deployed cadre before him of his position as municipal manager and replaced him with the best candidate for the job.

Olver recalls how he was touched to be called upon to “rebuild the party from scratch in the region… (after it) lost its moral compass and began to tear itself apart”. One thing about President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of the appointment of the Regional Task Team, on which Olver served, as caretaker executive body surprised Olver: “He didn’t mention corruption at all. Not once.”

The narrative takes the reader through the harrowing details of the criminality, looting, fraud, theft, misappropriation and corruption in PE with great particularity. However, in over 240 pages the author only has occasion to mention the Hawks six times, once concerning a cock-up in which they, by mistake, arrested a local Imam’s children as suspected terrorists and five times in connection with corruption investigations.

In case the book has not reached the Durban North precinct, here are some extracts for the SAPS, and especially the Hawks, to ponder:

On page 66 Olver refers to a threat he made during his interrogation of an attorney involved in shady dealings with the municipality: “Third, we intend to contact the Hawks and open a criminal case.” The threat was made in the context of negotiating a “deal”.

On pages 72 -3 the following appears: “I was also troubled by the limited cooperation we were getting from certain state agencies, such as the Hawks, the South African Revenue Service and National Treasury’s forensic unit… I met with members of the Hawks on a few occasions… As fighting corruption and organised crime falls squarely within the mandate of the Hawks, I assumed that we could collaborate on some investigations, or, at the very least, that I would refer some cases to them. Since our intervention had only administrative tools at its disposal, we had to pass the baton for any criminal prosecution. We handed over large quantities of information, neatly sorted and catalogued. We even prepared some files and detailed statements, basically offering them a paint-by-numbers exercise that allowed them to charge people without doing much work. Yet we never received any reports on progress, and by the time I left PE not a single arrest had taken place. The response of the Hawks was so slow that I wondered whether some of them were working for the people we  were chasing. Long after I left PE for good, our investigations eventually resulted in a few criminal cases.”

On page 112: “Unfortunately, we did not have the authority to initiate criminal cases; this had to come from the police, including the Hawks, or from the NPA”.

On page 128: “Although we spoon-fed the Hawks with all the information they needed, very little happened. They have concluded only one case so far, that of Songezile ‘Sox’ Nkanjeni … After 50 court appearances, he was eventually convicted of fraud in March 2017.”

On page 181: “The person who had gotten me involved (in PE politics) in the first place, Pravin Gordhan, was no longer around to give me protection… the Hawks had served a set of questions on Pravin just before his budget speech … In mid-April 2016 I had supper with my friend Pam Yako. After I unburdened myself to her, she asked me a simple question: ‘Who is providing you with political cover?’ I had to admit that no one was. ‘Then you are too exposed,’ she said. ‘You must think about getting out’.”

Olver did get out and then he wrote the book. Any eager beaver police investigators out there should be taking an interest and inviting Olver round to tea, but, as far as is publicly known, not a single call has come his way.

The second book, similarly themed, is Enemy of the People by Adriaan Basson and Pieter du Toit. The enemy in question is none other than President Zuma and the ground covered is in all material respects identical to or overlapping with the topics covered by Pauw and Myburgh. The latter has the disadvantage of having published before the #Guptaleaks came into the public domain. “Enemy of the People” makes up for this unlucky (or poor) timing by carefully selecting the authors’ top ten leaks which are summarised for the reading pleasure of students of state capture. Here they are, in even more potted version, for those who might have missed them:

Transnet and the Locomotives: A boxful of emails that document the ‘advisory fee’ paid by China South Rail (who secured the lion’s share of the Transnet tender to supply 359 locomotives) to the Hong Kong based company (owned by Gupta associated Salim Essa) Tequesta. The contractual agreement was such that Essa’s company would receive 21% of the amount paid for the locomotives for its familiarity with the political and regulatory conditions in South Africa without providing any proof of services rendered.

The Capture of Duduzane Zuma: Emails illustrate how Duduzane brokered meetings between the chairman of Russian investment firm Sistema and the President (for which he was thanked via email and rewarded with an offer for various deals between Sistema and South African Government), Duduzane Zuma (in conjunction with the Gupta brothers) also appears to act as a recruitment service ensuring that appropriately pliable people are placed in resource-strategic ministerial positions. Richard Seleka and Mosebenzi Zwane were both given positions as minister of public enterprises and mining minister respectively, shortly after sending their CVs to Duduzane Zuma via the alias “Business Man” and directly via Tony Gupta.

Bell Pottinger and Fake News: These emails illustrate the extent to which the interests of the Zuma family (particularly the President) have become amalgamated with the affairs of the Guptas. Following the public ire emanating from the dismissal of then Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene in 2015, Bell Pottinger was contracted to influence public opinion by fabricating the ‘white monopoly capital’ rhetoric and disseminating this narrative through speeches made by President Zuma linked ANCYL and MKMVA leaders. Bell Pottinger was reprimanded severely by the UK Public Relations and Communications Association. The rhetoric that the Guptas solicited from the firm is particularly incriminating when viewed in contrast to the Whites Only Black Monkeys leak, since those emails depict a vile attitude towards black people that cement the idea that “white monopoly capital” is not intended to serve the previously and continuously disadvantaged.

How the Free State Government paid for the Sun City Wedding: These emails depict how in 2013 a staggering R200-million was handed over to Gupta controlled company, Estina, to fund a dairy farm near Vrede. This project was designed to fail since only a fraction of the investment ever reached its intended destination, and was instead (as the emails show) laundered through Dubai. The money only interacted with the South African economy again in the form of a lavish Gupta wedding in Sun City in April of that year, into which R30million of taxpayer’s money was injected. KPMG audit firm’s South African arm was found, after an internal investigation by KPMG International, to be complicit in lowering its standards for the Guptas.

Multinational Kickbacks: These emails reveal how software company SAP paid just short of R100-million to a Gupta front company called CAD House, which is involved in selling 3D printers. However, these payments were paid as a commission fee for the acquisition of Transnet tenders. Financial records show how these payments were subsequently distributed to other Gupta owned entities.

Liebherr-International and Shangh-ai Zhenhua Heavy Industries both injected R55-million each into Gupta owned companies in the UAE, after securing contracts to supply South African ports with billions of rand worth of cranes.

Other emails show that Software AG and Global Softech Solutions (which the Guptas were in the process purchasing) constructed kickback agreements with the intention of securing tenders from Transnet, Sasol, Multichoice, the Department of Correctional Services and Manguang Municipality.

A Captured Presidency: The emails demonstrate that a minimum of four senior officials with close ties to the President benefited or interacted with the Guptas. The head of the President’s protection service and long-time bodyguard, Major-General Mxolisi Dladla and his then wife Presidency official Mogotladi Mogano; the President’s prior private secretary (now director of events and protocol in the Presidency); Mogano’s husband, Justice Piitso (previously leader of the SACP) is a pro-Gupta lobbyist.

All the President’s Men and Women: The leaks illustrate ties between a minimum of six of the President’s cabinet members and the Guptas. Malusi Gigaba (finance minister and former minister of home affairs and public enterprises) is implicated in dispatching home affairs officials to assist the Guptas in obtaining and fast tracking visas from India and the UAE.

Mosebenzi Zwane’s appointment as mining minister was brokered through the Gupta-Duduzane recruitment agency, and was also the person who approved the payment of R200-million to Estina, the doomed from the start dairy farm mentioned above.

Communications Minister Faith Muthumbi may be open to criminal prosecution on account of sending confidential policy choices made in Cabinet to Tony Gupta and Chawla.

Current Minister of Home Affairs Ayanda Dlodlo is implicated in the emails, the details of which are included in Enemy of the People.

Gupta Intelligence Agency: An excel spreadsheet found in the emails incriminates the Guptas in acts of criminal breaches of privacy in that flight records and ID numbers of various anti-Gupta individuals were kept and monitored. It is clear that this information came from a source in home affairs.

All Roads Lead to Dubai: The emails show an extensive degree of Gupta investment and involvement in Dubai. However, the truly damning aspects are the letters ostensibly authored by the President, he denies writing them (but then, he would, wouldn’t he?), where he describes his desire to eventually relocate to Dubai and also contains the solicitation of the patronage from the Prime Minister and vice-president of Dubai.

The leaks depict the way in which Dubai based companies are used to launder money illegally obtained in South Africa, and also show a cluster of concentrated travel of politicians and state officials, especially contiguous with the appointment of Des van Rooyen as Minister of Finance in December 2015. A long list of state officials is provided who were all booked into the Oberoi and chauffeured to the Gupta mansion in Dubai.

The burning question is: Why are the authors of these latter two works of non-fiction being left out in the cold? Surely the well-trained and sensitive powers that be in the SAPS hierarchy know that the state is not allowed to discriminate unfairly as expressly required by the equality clause in the Bill of Rights.

There is always the risk that those authors omitted will seek redress against SAPS in the equality courts of the land, after all, there are only a few shopping days left until Christmas, and nothing boosts book sales quite like the frisson of excitement generated by the thought that the naughty author may soon find himself at loggerheads with the criminalised criminal justice administration (hand-picked to keep the President safe) for no more that exercising his right to free speech, also guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights.

On the other hand, Pauw and Myburgh may regard themselves as the authors being unfairly discriminated against by the servants of the feral elite whose exploits they have chosen to chronicle. They may be on a less sticky wicket if they choose to go on the front foot for a nice cover drive or two. Either way, their sales are soaring at T20 rates. DM

Paul Hoffman is a director of Accountability Now

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