13 April 2024 | 09:40 PM

Other politicians at the Zuma trough

Key Takeaways

The KPMG report prepared for Jacob Zuma’s trial provides details of other politicians who allegedly benefited from the largesse of Schabir Shaik and Jurgen Kögl, also a businessperson.

Although several beneficiaries are named in the report, including S’bu Ndebele, the correctional services minister, most of the evidence concerns KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Barbara Masekela, South Africa’s former ambassador to France.

Investigators identify payments “to or on behalf of” Mkhize from Shaik or his Nkobi group totalling R159 022. This included a total of R122 328 paid on a bond on a property owned by Mkhize in Port Shepstone between 1999 and 2001, when he was KwaZulu-Natal health MEC.

The report states: “There are instances where funds were specifically intended for purposes other than his [Mkhize’s] personal benefit and may relate to party [ANC] activities and ‘sponsorships’ that Shaik and/or Nkobi provided to Mkhize.”

Of significance is a letter from Mkhize to Shaik dated May 19 1999, which states that payments were made to the “ANC KZN” from “Shaik’s group”, including “actual disbursements” of R1 261 595 and a “year-end dividend” of R1-million.

The report also details Masekela’s involvement — before and after her posting to France — with French defence company Thomson-CSF (Thales), through Kögl.

Investigators surmise that “Masekela intended to have a direct business relationship with Thomson but could not do so for ethical reasons”, which was why she had “to go via Kögl”.

Encrypted fax

This is based on correspondence, including an encrypted fax, dated May 17 1999, sent by local Thomson-CSF executive Alain Thetard to his bosses in Paris, stating that “Masekela has joined the black business group of [Cyril] Ramaphosa”, who “has been considered to be a rival of Thabo Mbeki for a long period of time”.

According to the report, Masekela told Thetard that Kögl “was authorised to handle matters on behalf of Thomson-CSF and that he had all their confidence”.

It quotes Thetard as writing: “For ethical reasons, being ambassador in Paris until 1998, it was not possible for her [Masekela] to be in a direct business relationship with a French company, which in turn explains her association with J Koegl [sic].”

He also wrote that Masekela wished to “wait for the next elections [June 2 1999] and the constitution of the new government before defining precisely the terms and conditions of our co-operation”.

Details from a 2005 general ledger of Kögl’s company, Cay Nominees, reflect payments to Masekela and her company, Mabusele Investments, amounting to R778 200.

Meeting Mbeki

Before this, Masekela helped to organise a meeting for Thomson vice-president Bernard de Bollar­diere with Mbeki.

In a letter to Mbeki dated December 11 1998, De Bollardiere, whose company was desperate for high-level endorsement of its black economic empowerment partners, wrote: “We understood through a further discussion with Her Excellency Mrs B Masekela that we could possibly meet with you beginning of 1999 to enter into further details as far as the implementation of the black empowerment policy of our JV African Defence Systems is concerned.”

KPMG says that Ndebele, then KwaZulu-Natal’s transport MEC, received a payment of R12 500 from Nkobi Holdings in January 1997 — 10 months before he attended meetings with Shaik and the Venson Group, a British fleet management company.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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