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If the ANC died, so would Bosasa: Zondo report

Zondo finds that Bosasa bribed the ANC generously so it could stay in business

01 March 2022 - 22:00 By TANKISO MAKHETHA and MATTHEW SAVIDES
Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi delivering his testimony at the state capture inquiry n Johannesburg on January 29 2019. File photo.
Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi delivering his testimony at the state capture inquiry n Johannesburg on January 29 2019. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

If the ANC failed, so too would Bosasa — and this is why the controversial state contractor gave money and its own office space for the party's elections "war room".

This is according to the state capture commission's report, the third part of which was officially released on Tuesday night.

Bosasa’s substantial donations to the ANC also feature prominently in the commission’s report, in particular the election “war room” facilities the company gave to the party at no cost — but at a cost of “millions”, according to company whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi.

“Mr Agrizzi may have exaggerated the expenditure, but it is clear from the sophistication of the equipment and facilities, and the time period over which they were provided (three months in respect of the 2014 elections and two months in respect of the Mangaung conference) that the value was substantial,” states the report.

“The question, from the perspective of Bosasa and its directors, is whether they sought through the provision of the ‘war room’ facilities to the ANC at no charge, indirectly to influence the public office bearers, functionaries and employees listed in [the commission’s terms of reference].

The family of Gavin Watson said if there was foul play in his death, they know who might be behind it.
The family of Gavin Watson said if there was foul play in his death, they know who might be behind it.
Image: Supplied

“There is no evidence to suggest that the provision of the facilities was a bona fide contribution by [Bosasa boss Gavin] Watson personally based on his long-standing relationship with the ANC.

“Instead, the evidence is that it was provided by Bosasa as a business organisation at its office park, at the instance of its directors …  Moreover, the evidence of Mr Watson's abuse of his ANC connections for his own ends shows on the probabilities that this was not so.”

Former Bosasa executive turned whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi spilt the beans during the Zondo commission of enquiry into state capture about how he played a central role in setting up “war rooms" for the ANC.

Agrizzi testified that he was responsible for setting up former president Jacob Zuma’s campaign for the national conference in Mangaung in 2012, the ANC’s national elections in 2014 and the local government elections in 2016. 

Agrizzi, who was the commission’s star witness against Bosasa, told the commission that although he got the centres up and running, he was not involved in the finer details. 

Agrizzi testified about Bosasa’s massive call centre which was two-pronged: one half of the centre dealt with government fleet contracts while the other, although vacant, was intended to deal with the integration of CCTV access control for the department of justice and constitutional development.

Bosasa was a business organisation that was heavily invested in securing tenders from government departments and organs of state
Zondo report on state capture

Agrizzi was then told to kit out the centre with new computers, new video boards and ANC branding. He testified that he was told to convert the lodge for volunteers and provide them with food three times a day because some ministers were at the facility.

He added that if he asked a question about these war rooms, he was told: “Just shut up and do it and that everything, like the SIU matter, would go away.”

The election “war rooms” for the governing party were set up at Bosasa’s Krugersdorp headquarters in the run up to at least three previous elections, without the party having to carry any of the costs.

The report states: “Bosasa was a business organisation that was heavily invested in securing tenders from government departments and organs of state.

“Against the backdrop of all the evidence received by the commission in connection with Bosasa, and the extent to which its business model was based on its ability to influence public office bearers, one need merely consider the potentially catastrophic consequences for Bosasa if the ANC were to be voted out of power, to understand how important the provision of the ‘war room’ facilities to the ANC was, in order for Bosasa to be able to achieve its business objectives.”

Former ANC MP Vincent Smith appears for his bail application on October 1 2020, at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court, south of Johannesburg. Smith is facing charges of fraud and corruption and was granted bail. File photo.
Former ANC MP Vincent Smith appears for his bail application on October 1 2020, at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court, south of Johannesburg. Smith is facing charges of fraud and corruption and was granted bail. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The report goes one step further, saying that the evidence – based on Bosasa’s “corrupt modus operandi” – shows that Bosasa donated towards the war rooms so that:

  • “The ANC would remain the majority party and thus in a position to appoint to positions of public office, persons whom Bosasa was able to influence or would seek to influence”; and
  • “Members of the ANC deployed to senior positions in state institutions, organs of state and SOEs would remain well-disposed towards Bosasa, in its business dealings, which included tendering for and retaining contracts with such state institutions.”

In fact, Zondo notes, during Ramaphosa’s testimony it was acknowledged that there was a “major lapse” on the part of the ANC in accepting this assistance from Bosasa.

“President Ramaphosa also appropriately conceded that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion on the facts that the ANC received this and other forms of assistance from Bosasa, in breach of its rule that it would not knowingly receive donations from donors involved in criminal activities; and while key ANC officials, including the president of the time, must have been aware of the earlier serious allegations of corruption against Bosasa,” the report reads.

Agrizzi was expected to appear in the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court, sitting at the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court for corruption charges on March 2. His co-accused is former ANC MP Vincent Smith, who allegedly accepted bribes from Bosasa in return for helping facilitate contracts.

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