Majali's ghost haunts ANC

18 September 2011 - 03:06 By SASHNI PATHER
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In a startling letter addressed to ANC leaders before he died, Oilgate kingpin Sandi Majali spells out his frustration at being left out in the cold - despite giving the party millions of rands - and threatens to spill the beans on more shady dealings.

Sandi Majali
Sandi Majali

The letter was written just weeks before his death in December last year, at a time when the businessman's empire was unravelling and his powerful friends had apparently abandoned him.

Majali's revelations include the payment of R18-million - and not R11-million as previously reported - to the ANC. The money was funnelled through his company, Imvume Management, by state-owned oil company PetroSA in 2003. It was used to fund the ANC's election campaign in 2004.

That scandal became known as Oilgate.

In the letter - dated November 15 2010 and addressed to President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe - Majali accounts for how the R18-million was disbursed.

"R11-million was paid to the ANC and R7-million was paid directly to service providers for the January 8 function [marking the anniversary of the party's founding]," Majali said.

He discloses other payments made to the ANC.

"In 2004 I paid more than R3-million for the medical aid of the organisation as it was three months in arrears. This payment brought the scheme up to date and members could continue drawing benefits," he writes.

"I also paid and facilitated R10.5-million to the ANC through my various companies and the records are available for inspection."

Majali writes that, in total, "I personally paid and facilitated more than R45-million to the ANC between 1999 and 2006".

Majali had just been arrested for his attempted corporate hijacking of Kalahari Resources - a company in which he had a stake - and was facing a possible new probe into the Oilgate scandal.

"It was my money and I could do whatever I wanted with it. I then spent R18-million of the R24-million (and not just R11-million as reported in the newspapers) in assisting the organisation that I support. Since then the police came back to reopen the case," Majali complains.

He makes an implicit threat that should either probe continue, he would disclose more about his dealings with the ruling party.

"They are forcing me to say things that I would not normally disclose in my lifetime, because I have assisted my organisation willingly," he writes.

The party denies receiving the letter - but Majali's close associates told the Sunday Times he was given an assurance that the concerns raised in his letter would be addressed and he would receive a response, by January this year.

But Majali was found dead on December 26 last year at a Sandton hotel.

The copy of the letter seen by the Sunday Times is unsigned, but several of Majali's close associates have confirmed its authenticity.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: "He never sent that letter to me. I've never seen such a letter."

Mantashe refused to reveal how much Majali had contributed to the party over the years.

"I don't know [how much he contributed]. Do you want us to tell you how much Standard Bank contributed, how much Absa contributed? I'm not going to do that, you know that," he said.

When it was put to Mantashe that the party was not being transparent about its dealings with Majali, Mantashe said: "There's a difference between transparency and being nude ... why should I go around telling how much people contributed?"

ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa told the Sunday Times on Friday that there was no record of the letter or the money.

But, after seeing detailed questions e-mailed to ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, Phosa called back to say he would discuss the matter with "the president, deputy president and Jackson".

Yesterday, Phosa's response was that he had "informed the relevant people" and that there was "no memory of a letter being received".

Phosa added: "Our books are audited by Deloitte and there is no record of this money in our finances."

He added: "Majali isn't here to dispute what we are saying ... in our culture it is not wise to engage someone who cannot respond, it is undignified."

Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj referred questions about Majali's claims about the money to ANC spokesman Mthembu.

In the letter Majali denies that he had been refunded R11-million by the ANC, as the party had claimed.

"I want to make it clear to those that were not part of my funding activities of the ANC that I have been hearing that someone from the ANC has been informing the media that the ANC has refunded the R11-million to me.

"I place on record that I have never demanded the R11-million from the ANC and, even if the ANC offered, I would be unwilling to take back the money," Majali writes.

Yesterday, Phosa expressed surprise: "Mendi [Msimang, the former treasurer-general] said at Polokwane that the money was returned."

Majali goes on to say: "It is not my intention to draw the ANC [in]to my prosecution process. I simply want to alert the leadership, who may not have sufficient information of what happened in the fundraising process of the ANC at the time."

In 2005 the then public protector, Lawrence Mushwana, declined to pursue the Oilgate money trail to the ANC, saying this was outside his mandate.

In June this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside a decision by the High Court in Pretoria ordering the public protector to reopen the investigation into whether Majali had diverted millions belonging to PetroSA to the ANC.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela said after that ruling that she would "review" Mushwana's report.

The high-flying business tycoon - who was named in the United Nations report on Iraq's oil-for-food scandal - regularly bankrolled ANC dinner parties.

Majali's death was shrouded in mystery, and speculation about the cause of death is still rife, ranging from poisoning to respiratory problems.

Top-ranking ANC members were noticeably absent from his funeral and hesitant to comment after his death.

The exception was the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Ngoako Ramatlhodi .

At Majali's funeral near Port St Johns in January , Ramatlhodi told mourners that many ANC leaders wanted to deny Majali's cash injection into the ANC, but it was a fact.

"There was a time when he was paying the salaries of some people at Luthuli House. Some of us want to deny it, but we can't."

In December 2008, the Sunday Times reported that then president Kgalema Motlanthe had moved into a R6-million Saxonwold mansion that was identified for him by Majali, who arranged that his business associate Molotsi Sifora sign the agreement of sale. Motlanthe occupied the home while occupational rent was paid with cheques from Majali's company.

At the time Motlanthe's spokesman, Thabo Masebe, said Motlanthe had a lease agreement with Sifora and "was not involved in the sale at all".

At Majali's memorial in Bryanston last year, Ramatlhodi said Majali's contribution to the ANC's 2004 election campaign "turned out to be a curse that he carried to his grave".

Ramatlhodi said: "His first sin was to support the ANC. His second sin was to insist on being an equal player in the economic sphere."

This year President Zuma included Majali in a tribute to party members who had died in 2010.

Sandton detective Captain Shaun Robson said Majali's death was still under investigation.

"The postmortem has been finalised but we are awaiting three more test results which can take one to four years to complete because of backlogs," he said.

Majali's family enlisted the help of a private pathologist in the hope that this would shed more light on how Majali died. The Sunday Times has established that tests by the private pathologist have been finalised.

Majali family spokesman John Ngcebetsha said: "The family wants to compare outcomes from both the state and the private pathologist. It is disappointing that the state is taking this long, but we are hoping that there will be an outcome before year end." - Additional reporting by Rob Rose

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