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Zondo report finds 'reasonable suspicion' against Gwede Mantashe

01 March 2022 - 20:49 By Matthew Savides and Mawande Amashabalala
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe. File photo.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

If authorities were to look, they are likely to find evidence that Gwede Mantashe was corrupt in dealing with state contractor Bosasa, which has controversially paid for upgrades to his home.

This is one of the findings against Mantashe laid out in the state capture commission’s report, which was presented to the presidency on Tuesday.

Mantashe was secretary-general of the ANC at the time, which commission chair Raymond Zondo notes was a “powerful” position given that he was at the helm of the country’s ruling party and was, therefore, close to the decision-making levers of power.

In his report, Zondo remarks that Bosasa was “heavily invested in securing tenders from particular government departments and organs of state”.

“It sought to be able, through Mr Mantashe and the inducements and gain provided to him, to influence the leadership of those departments and organs of state, a leadership drawn almost exclusively from the ranks of the ANC and falling within the categories of public office bearers listed in the commission’s terms of reference,” he writes.

As a result, Mantashe should be investigated in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca).

He adds that there is “reasonable suspicion” that Mantashe received the free installations for his homes knowing that this was done to seek, though him, influence in terms of the departments that Bosasa did, or sought to do, business with.

Accordingly, Zondo recommended, there is no doubt reasonable prospects that charges of corruption may stick to Mantashe, should law enforcement dig deeper.

“In the circumstances, there is a reasonable prospect that further investigation will uncover a prima facie against Mr Mantashe ... in respect of the offence of corruption in terms of section 23 of Precca, and the matter is referred for investigation accordingly.”

Mantashe is in trouble for his unconvincing explanations to Zondo about security upgrades at his three homes, in Boksburg, in Cala and Khowa in the Eastern Cape.

The former ANC secretary-general had mounted a defence that is mainly in two parts.

In the first instance, he argued that the upgrades wherein he was assisted by Bosasa director Papa Leshabane needed to be viewed in the context of a family event, such as a traditional wedding wherein friends and family would make contributions.

This defence, Zondo found, doesn’t hold because Mantashe failed “to make contributions whatsoever of his own”.

Worse still, if Mantashe’s “traditional sharing of costs” is to be believed, he at least ought to have made a contribution “consummate to his means”, which he did not.

Zondo further found it problematic that Mantashe sought to downplay the influence that comes with occupying the position of secretary-general of the governing party.

Mantashe is also not telling the truth, said Zondo, when he says to have only known of one controversial contract that Bosasa was involved in when most of the company’s shady dealings were in the public domain.

Zondo believes Mantashe also did not prove to be a reliable witness when he said to have forgotten whether he once owned a red Land Cruiser because “this is the type of thing that every person would remember”.

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