21 July 2024 | 06:52 AM

That’s the way the cookie crumbles

Key Takeaways

Stefaans Brümmer and Ilham Rawoot report on the cronies who were discovered this year with their hands in the public cookie jar.

Jackie Selebi

Gangsta granola bars: In August the South Gauteng High Court finally confirmed what the M&G had been saying for years, that former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi had a corrupt relationship with drug dealer Glenn Agliotti. Selebi was convicted of taking bribes of R166 000 from Agliotti for showing him secret police reports and for other favours.

Fana Hlongwane

Liechtenstein delights: Since the late 1990s, Fana Hlongwane has gorged himself on the delights of the arms deal. The defence minister’s special adviser-turned-middleman for arms supplier BAE Systems received over R200-million in “consultancy” fees, but he could not retrieve tens of millions from Liechtenstein, where it had been frozen in the course of international bribery investigations. Hlongwane was given the opportunity to dig into the cookie jar in March this year when national prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane controversially ordered the Asset Forfeiture Unit to abandon a preservation order that would have allowed authorities in Liechtenstein to maintain the freeze pending further investigation.

Siphiwe Nyanda

Bryanston brownies: Siphiwe Nyanda was chief of the defence force when the arms deal was clinched, and Fana Hlongwane was the “agent” for BAE Systems, the largest arms deal supplier. When Nyanda found a home in plush Bryanston as he prepared to leave the military in 2005, who did he turn to for help? The M&G revealed in December that Hlongwane had extended him a R4,4-million “loan” when banks apparently would not, and that the bond was “coincidentally” cancelled the day President Jacob Zuma appointed Nyanda to his first Cabinet in May 2009. The question remains whether Nyanda repaid Hlongwane in full.

Khulubuse Zuma

DRC doughnuts: When Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila bumped two companies off two promising

oil blocks in his country, handing the blocks instead to two opaque British Virgin Islands (BVI) companies in June, it attracted a blast of controversy. But Kabila had made a political calculation — which became obvious when Khulubuse Zuma, nephew of President Jacob Zuma, stepped forward as the supposed sole owner of both BVI companies. Presidential bilateral relations were taken care of, but what about the future? The Mail & Guardian presented evidence that interests close to Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, a possible successor to Zuma, also stand to benefit.

Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas

Iron chip cookies: While Jacob Zuma’s friends and family were personae non gratae during the future president’s spell in the political wilderness, what little succour Duduzane Zuma got was from the entrepreneurial Gupta family, who may have bet that a horse with the odds against it is a good bet. After Zuma’s December 2007 Polokwane victory, the cookie jar was within reach of Zuma’s son and his sponsors. They reached into it in August this year, when a Duduzane-led company acquired shares with a face value approaching R1-billion in ArcelorMittal’s controversial BEE deal, which was leveraged off the even more controversial Sishen iron mining rights grab of Imperial Crown Trading, half-held by Gupta manager Jagdish Parekh. Parekh and the Guptas’ investment vehicles got shares with a face value amounting to over R2-billion.

Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela

Aurora creams: The men with the presidential surnames spent the past year and a bit driving the liquidated Pamodzi mines into the ground. Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela’s company, Aurora Empowerment Systems, was controversially appointed preferred bidder to acquire mining assets of liquidated Pamodzi late last year. February this year was the last time their workers received a full paycheck. Subsequently, evidence of asset stripping emerged, with the M&G reporting early this October that scrap metal was being sold from the mine for Aurora’s account. Zuma, who is President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, and Mandela, who is Nelson Mandela’s grandson, serve with President Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, on Aurora’s board.

Julius Malema

Juju’s jamtarts: ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s pockets might be as big as his mouth. This year it was reported that Malema-linked companies were awarded 20 government contracts in Limpopo between 2007 and 2008, for amounts ranging from R500 000 to R39-million. On top of this, SGL Engineering, a small firm contracted to construct roads and pavements, allegedly raked in R130-million in contracts in two years. The M&G reported in July that Malema’s Blue Nightingale Trading was cut into a consortium that received R200-million for a medical waste disposal tender from the Limpopo government. Malema has claimed it was mistakenly indicated on company records that he was involved with some of the companies.

Politicians and bureaucrats everywhere

World Cupcakes: Incumbency never tasted as sweet as when state entities splurged well over R100-million of taxpayers’ money on tickets for ministers, officials and “stakeholders” to attend Fifa World Cup matches in June and July. The department of trade and industry reached deepest into the cookie jar, spending almost R17-million. Eskom and PetroSA were not far behind at about R12-million each. The department of communications spent over R5-million, while its cash-strapped ward, the SABC, blew another R3-million.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, supported by M&G Media and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, produced this story.”www.amabhungane.co.za.

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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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