Wednesday, 22 June 2022 21:31

State Capture Commission recommend Hawks reopen investigation against Fraser.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

State capture commission chair Raymond Zondo has recommended the Hawks revisit an investigation into former spy chief Arthur Fraser that was dropped at the insistence of former intelligence minister Siyabonga Cwele.

Zondo made the recommendation in the final report of the commission handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday night.

The report covers many topics that were investigated including the involvement of ministers in law enforcement agencies.

According to Zondo, it might well be that Fraser will be absolved by the investigation but added that dropping the probe before it could take off was not on.

The investigation the Hawks dumped, Zondo observed, was from the PAN report which raised a red flag of prima facie criminal activities on the part of Fraser.

"The resumption of the investigations should be reconsidered by the Hawks. It might be whoever were involved, including Fraser, get absolved, but the investigations should be allowed to take their normal course," Zondo said.

Fraser, he added, should further be probed, along with former special ops boss Thulani Dlomo and ex-intelligence minister David Mahlobo for handling and distributing large sums of SSA money.

Zondo found Fraser did not just handle State Security Agency cash but that the agency's operational budget jumped by 75% when he took over as spy boss.

"Fraser, then DG of the SSA, also handled and caused a lot of cash to be withdrawn [from SSA coffers]. After his appointment budgetary allocations increased from about R42m in [the] 2016-17 financial year to about R303m in 2017-18," found Zondo.

"It was said by [the] Project Veza investigation team that about R125m remained unaccounted for by Fraser."

The report said in part: "The creation of the Ministry of State security and the consequent appointment of "Minister of State security" through the 11 September 2009 proclamation, made the SSA to report to a minister, at the time Dr Siyabonga Cwele, who was later followed by David Mahlobo that paved the way for a minister's involvement in the operations of the SSA, and that is exactly what happened. The evidence is overwhelming and both ministers did just that.

The report continued: "One of the ways in which that happened was when minister Cwele, on the weight of the evidence before the commission by the country's top intelligence chiefs, interfered against the investigation of the Guptas. He said investigating them would amount to investigating former president Jacob Zuma.

"Minister Mahlobo, on evidence, not only involved himself in the operations but also directed them . He was actively involved in for example projects under project Wave and project justice. One of his responses during the commission was that the law did not prohibit him from getting involved. What is more worrying is his involvement in the withdrawals, handling and distributing large sums of money, an aspect that is dealt with separately herein.

In his recommendations Zondo said that ministers should not be involved in operations of intelligent services.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

The commission has recommended that a new probe be instituted to get to the bottom of why SA's state-run passenger rail agency was allowed to "slide into almost total ruin". 

"Having given anxious consideration to the issues, I have decided that a special commission of inquiry be appointed to examine specifically the following matters: why Prasa was allowed to slide into almost total ruin, who should be held responsible for that and who cold have benefitted from that unacceptable state of affairs," he said. 

Much of the testimony related to Prasa, heard during the inquiry, involved two controversial contracts that the rail group entered into with companies Swifambo and Siyangena.

The Swifambo contract, concluded in March 2013, entailed purchasing 70 locomotives from a company called Swifambo Rail Leasing for R3.5 billion. 

Zondo concluded that Swifambo contact was "so flawed" that it must have been apparent to "any reasonable person" that it was corrupt right from the start. The contact was halted by a high court application and the company later liquidated. 

The Siyangena contract refers to a tender won by electronic security systems group Siyangena Technologies to install integrated security systems at rail stations. The initial budget for the contract was R517 million, but later ballooned after it was extended. The contract was set aside by a high court in October 2020.

While the Hawks are already investigating the Siyagena and Swifambo contracts, Zondo urged the president to take steps to ensure that they be finalised as soon as possible.

He also asked that the National Director of Public Prosecutions immediately start putting together teams to prosecute wrongdoers. 

The chief justice also recommended that numerous top officials and members of the Prasa's former board be investigated, including its former CEO Lucky Montana. 

2013 Gupta wedding guest landing in Waterkloof Airbase

The commission finds that in light of the evidence and the background surveyed it was difficult to accept that former president Jacob Zuma did not know about the Waterkloof landing before it happened.

"The probabilities are overwhelming that [former] president Zuma knew about the plans for a Gupta private aircraft to land at Waterkloof Military Air Base and had no objections to plans being implemented.

"In fact all indications are that he would have taken steps to have the landing of the private aircraft facilitated. If that is what the Guptas wanted from him, how could he not do it for them when the evidence has shown that he could fire his own comrades if that was what the Guptas wanted."

The Gupta family flew in about 200 guests for a lavish family wedding at Sun City, an incident which, possibly for the first time, showed the family’s influence over the state. 

But, on July 15 2019, Zuma testified before the commission that he did not discuss, nor did he plan or have knowledge of the Gupta Waterkloof landing.

Duduzane Zuma ('conduit' between the Guptas and government)

The Commission found that former president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane, was the "conduit between the Guptas and government, particularly his father.

"He took part in awarding contracts of SOEs to Gupta-linked companies. In several cases [he] was present when bribes were offered to individuals at the Guptas' Saxonwold residence."

The Commission recommends that the police investigates whether Duduzane Zuma had committed "any offence by facilitating acts of corruption or by facilitating bribes or by failing to report corruption that may have been committed in his presence by Tony Gupta when he offered a bribe to  Mcebisi Jonas, Mxolisi Dukwana and Vusi Kona".

Duduzane Zuma currently lives between Dubai and Durban, where he is an ANC branch chairperson.

Vrede dairy project in Free State

Zondo has slammed disgraced former Free State agricultural MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and called for criminal charges to be laid against the former Free State agricultural department head Peter Thabethe for his involvement in the Vrede dairy project.

Zondo made the comments and findings against Zwane and Thabethe in his final report which he handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night in Pretoria.

Zondo was scathing of the R37m project, which was designed and marketed as a means to develop indigent Free State farmers but saw a portion of the funds being used to sponsor the Gupta family’s lavish wedding in Sun City.

"The project failed in its first two years of operation, not because of the media enquiries or the National Treasury investigation, as suggested by Thabethe, but because of Thabethe’s incompetence or because he was carrying out the agenda of the Guptas and cared less about the taxpayers’ money and the black farmers.

"Apart from anything else, Thabethe must be held both criminally and civilly liable for his role in causing the department to lose millions of rand in taxpayers' money," said Zondo.

He recommended that law-enforcement agencies conduct further investigations into the project, with the NPA charging Thabethe for contravening the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) and the Free State provincial government suing Thabethe for monies lost because of the project.

Zonzo also said former Free State premier Ace Magashule and Zwane were pursuing the agenda of the Guptas when they aided the looting of millions of rand from the Vrede dairy project. 

And for that, they should be investigated for possible criminal conduct, which could see the suspended secretary-general of the ANC facing more charges.

Zondo has recommended that lifestyle audits be conducted on all senior managers and Free State government politicians who had been involved in the Vrede dairy farm project.

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

Zondo found there can be no doubt that former president Jacob Zuma was in breach of the Executive Ethics Code in his dealing with TNA and ANN7.

"He as President, abused his office for his own benefit, that of his son and that of his friends, the Guptas.

"He placed himself in a situation of a conflict of interest and abused his position as President of the country."

Zondo found that the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma benefitted from the relationship the Guptas had with Jacob Zuma in that they obtained state contracts, in particular with the SABC, "to the detriment of other potential competitors" in the media space.

"President Zuma enabled, indirectly, the members of the Gupta family as businesspeople to occupy a place of prominence over other businessmen, to the detriment of the empowerment legislative imperative of the Republic of South Africa."

The Commission recommends that the SABC institute proceedings to recover the R4.2 million it spent on broadcasting the Guptas' TNA breakfast briefings.

"At the very least, the investigating and prosecuting authorities should attempt to recover all the monies spent through unlawful and improper actions, if that can still be done. For instance, the R11 million 'success fee' should be recovered from Hlaudi Motsoeneng."

Further, Motsoeneng "saw himself (and probably was) the facilitator between President Zuma and at the very least the news section of the SABC", and while it is unclear whether it was to benefit Zuma, it did benefit the ANC and the Duduzane Zuma.

Zondo recommends that former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo and Motsoeneng be investigated for contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Electoral Reform 

In a major finding and recommendation, Zondo has proposed that South Africa's Constitution be amended to allow the direct election of the president.

"How did the country end up having as President someone who would act the way President Zuma acted? Someone that could remove as good a public servant as Themba Maseko from his position just so that he could put someone else into that position who would cooperate with the Guptas and give them business.

"A President who would fire the Minister of Finance just because his friends wanted someone else in that position who would cooperate with his friends and help them to capture the country; National Treasury.

"Indeed, a President who became party to a scheme created by the Guptas to remove a number of executives from their positions at Eskom so that the Guptas could put their own associates in those positions so as to facilitate the looting of Eskom."

Zondo concludes that our electoral system is flawed because many people wanted to vote for the ANC but not for Zuma as president.

He recommends that the Van Zyl Slabbert report of 2003 on electoral reforms be revisited.

President Cyril Ramaphosa (CR17 Campaign).

Zondo says the president should have known where funding for his CR17 campaign came from.

This after an acknowledgement that it did receive money from Bosasa, the corrupt former facilities manager.

"His repeated claim that he was in the dark about his campaign funding (‘Up to today I do not know how those funds had been managed I do not know the full facts because they have neutrally decided to keep it away from me.’) has potentially troublesome implications.

"It was his responsibility to ensure that such funds were solicited and used transparently and accountably. By removing himself from the management of funds, he failed to fulfil this responsibility.

"This is made clear by the simple fact that his campaign not only accepted but solicited donations from individuals suspected to be involved in corrupt activities."

African National Congress (ANC)

Zondo found that "the current constitutional and statutory framework" makes it "unlawful and unconstitutional" for anyone to adhere to what the ANC's deployment committee wants.

If anyone is appointed or promoted based on the whims of the deployment committee "this would be actionable as an unfair labour practice."

Zondo has also found Ramaphosa opted to look the other way at the early signs of state capture when he served as Zuma's second in command.

"He claimed that he would have been dismissed if he had been more confrontational. This contention was analysed ... He must have believed that former president [Jacob] Zuma was complicit in state capture and was prepared to dismiss his deputy president to protect the state capture project. Yet he did not give any evidence as to why he believed this was the case.

"Had he tried to act in some way against corruption and state capture, and been rebuked? Had he seen others face these consequences from the former president?"

Furthermore, Zondo said: "Ramaphosa must have believed that the ruling party would not defend him in such a case and that the ANC would have protected a president who fired his deputy president for the crime of confronting corruption.

"This aligns with Ramaphosa's broader contention that his ability to act was curtailed by the political reality of the time — the 'balance of forces' in power in the ruling party and in the national executive. This is an indictment on the party and its leadership.

"However, his intervention in preventing the permanent appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister was effective. It worked, despite the balance of power.

"He was not dismissed and did not face any consequences for his action. It is difficult, then, to understand why other allegations in the public domain — in some cases made by loyal ANC members themselves — continued to go unaddressed for so long.

Read the full reports here:State Capture Report Final Part.

Now Ramaphosa and the ANC face an uphill battle to convince a sceptical public that the corrupt will be brought to account and that they can fix the damage wrought during the Zuma years. There have been scant signs of progress so far — power cuts have worsened, municipalities have run out of money and the private sector is taking it upon itself to build power plants, guard key transport routes and fulfil other functions previously carried out by the state.

Politically, the party that Nelson Mandela led to power in 1994 is already paying a price. In municipal elections last year, it garnered less than half of the vote for the first time, with South Africans naming corruption as a top concern. An April survey by the Social Research Foundation showed that many potential voters favour the idea of the party governing in a coalition going forward to temper its excesses.