Mxolisi Zuma allegedly involved with one of 13 firms raided by Hawks in ‘TV box collusion'
A company that allegedly offered one of President Jacob Zuma’s sons a R54-million bribe to swing a government contract was among 13 firms raided by the Hawks last week in connection with collusion in a R5-billion set-top box tender.
Altech UEC, a subsidiary of tech giant Altron, was one of the companies whose premises were raided last Thursday.
The search-and-seizure raids were carried out following a 10-month investigation by the Competition Commission after a whistle-blower claimed the companies had colluded on the multibillion-rand tender.Altech, Veltronix, Tellumat, QEC, Worldtel, Altron Altech, Grand Tellumat Manufacturing, Altech Multimedia, Named Skills Development Institute, Named Western Cape, Namec NPO, Equitron and African Digital Solutions were all raided.
Makgale Mohlala, the manager of the Competition Commission’s cartel division, said in an affidavit that some senior employees at the companies had denied under oath that any form of collaboration took place.
The Sunday Times has seen the affidavit.
However, Mohlala said that the commission had found that some senior executives also served as directors at competitor firms but had not declared this. In addition, bids for different firms had been compiled by the same people, using the same contact information, alleged Mohlala.
In the affidavit, Mohlala reveals that the commission is in possession of e-mail exchanges between Tellumat executive Noam Sayag and Arrow Altech MD Peter Griffiths in which the two discuss the prospect of the companies collaborating while also urging each other to keep the communication “strictly confidential”.
The exchanges had shown that Tellumat alluded to the existence of a nondisclosure agreement, according to Mohlala’s affidavit, part of which quoted one e-mail, which read: “In the event either party receives a subpoena ... demanding confidential information of the other party, the recipient shall ... notify the disclosing party and tender to it the defence of such demand.”
South Africa is in the process of migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, which will necessitate the use of decoders to transmit programming. But this has been mired in red tape, power struggles and allegations of rampant corruption. The country missed the 2015 International Telecommunications Union-imposed deadline to switch off its analogue signal.
In August, the Sunday Times reported that Mxolisi Saady Zuma was accused of trying to broker a R54-million bribe to use his father’s influence to swing a government contract.The 37-year-old was born in Mozambique while his father was in exile. He is the younger brother of twins Duduzane and Duduzile. Their mother, Kate Zuma, died in 2000 after taking a cocktail of pills.
Mxolisi allegedly tried to broker a bribe with Altech UEC to help the company secure a large share of the set-top box contract.
The R54-million bribe fee for Mxolisi was discussed in March 2015, e-mails between Altech UEC executives show. At the time, Altron group executive for marketing and investor relations Zipporah Maubane denied the company had tried to bribe Mxolisi in order to get a stake in the tender.
Maubane confirmed on Friday that three of the company’s subsidiaries — Altech UEC, Altech Multimedia and Arrow Altech Distribution — had been raided. “Allegations by the commission with respect to the set-top box tender collusion are denied.”
Tellumat CEO Andrew Connold confirmed on Friday that his firm and its associate company, Grand Tellumat Manufacturing, were under investigation “on allegations of tender collusion”.
“The Competition Commission investigators — accompanied by SAPS and Hawks officers — arrived at Tellumat’s premises in Cape Town with a search-and-seizure warrant, giving them access to documents and electronic records that they believe may assist them with their investigation.“Copies of select documents and electronic records were seized for further analysis by the commission during the raid.
“We have and will continue to co-operate fully with the investigators,” Connold said.
Vektronix — which has been renamed Yekani — spokesman Mathabo Maine confirmed the raid. “We co-operated because we have nothing to hide.”
The other companies did not respond.
Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed the 13 companies had been raided but nobody was arrested.
“The commission deals with the civil aspect of the investigation — we don’t deal with arrest warrants,” he said.