Tenders invited for tent big enough for SA corruption circus
Ilse Schoonraad | 22 January 2019
Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi’s evidence before the Zondo Commission has left South Africans – at least those not involved in state capture – incredulous.
If Agrizzi, himself a prime thug, is to be believed, the ease and arrogance with which fraud is committed in South Africa is endemic and so unbelievably blatant, it’s beyond shocking and even bizarrely comical.
Twitter comments in the vein of “Are there any ANC politicians and cadres who were not paid a bribe?”, and “Wonder if Zondo himself is next?” followed when the commission’s own secretary, Khotso de Wee, was placed on special leave after Agrizzi testified De Wee had also accepted a Bosasa bribe.
Until late last year most South Africans were only vaguely aware of the existence of Bosasa (renamed in June 2017 to African Global Operations), its head Gavin Watson and Operations Officer Angelo Agrizzi.
This, notwithstanding the fact that Bosasa’s dirty dealings was exposed by investigative journalist Adriaan Basson in the first decade of this millennium forcing the Special Investigation Unit to compile a report and to hand it to the National Prosecuting Authority in 2009. But, since then, the NPA could not, or would not, complete their criminal case for a successful prosecution. Agrizzi claims top NPA officials were paid to prevent justice from being done.
Then, last year, Bosasa once again took centre stage in the media when it come to light that the company had donated (a mere) R500 000 to Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign, a donation that our president was seemingly unaware of.
With Ramaphosa definitely not short of cash, it seems implausible that he would risk his political career for the paltry sum of half a mil – a tiny fraction of what Bosasa allegedly regularly paid out in bribe money.
Agrizzi says Jacob Zuma was one of the regular beneficiaries of Bosasa handouts, so the R500 000 for the Ramaphosa campaign could have been a case of Watson hedging his bets just in case his long-time friend’s ex, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, did not make the cut. As it happens Dlamini-Zuma did lose to Ramaphosa by a hair’s breadth – a loss that must have made Watson and his government contacts reach for Imodium.
But, no one can accuse Watson of being a loyalist. Once a Thabo Mbeki man, Watson quickly moved on to Zuma when the political playing field started favouring the former Number One.
The Guptas are most likely heaving a sigh of relief since the spotlight has shifted to the Watsons as the new stars of the state capture circus. And the circus keeps growing.
On Monday 21 January political commentator Theo Venter tweeted: "#Bosasa - First it was the Guptas, then Bosasa, now someone told me Ace Magashule and Sedgars might be a very similar design!"
Most of us would prefer a circus offering the splendour of magicians and acrobats swinging high above a strong safety net, but sadly, what we see is a cast convinced to perform like circus animals through “positive reinforcement”.