[Marxism] Bribes Like ‘Monopoly Money’ Were Given to South Africa’s Leaders, Panel Hears

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jan 30 08:30:45 MST 2019


NY Times, Jan. 30, 2019
Bribes Like ‘Monopoly Money’ Were Given to South Africa’s Leaders, Panel 
Hears
By Norimitsu Onishi

Cash bribes were called “monopoly money,” and handed out to high-ranking 
members of South Africa’s governing party on monthly retainers. When 
that payoff wasn’t enough, $22,000 was stuffed into a Louis Vuitton 
handbag and delivered to a close ally of the president at the time.

That sent the recipient “over the moon,” according to Angelo Agrizzi, a 
businessman — and now whistle-blower — who detailed, at a continuing 
government inquiry into public corruption, extravagant bribes doled out 
to members of the party, the African National Congress, at the highest 
levels of government.

A current government minister, he testified, liked receiving an annual 
Christmas basket that included “four cases of high-quality whiskey, 40 
cases of beer, eight lambs — cut up, obviously.” Her daughter was 
partial to high-end convertibles, Audi A3 Cabriolets, but kept crashing 
the cars given to her.

“So I actually called her in one day and sat her down and said, ‘Can I 
arrange for driver training, special driver training for you,’ because 
it was getting embarrassing,” Mr. Agrizzi said.

The granular details about the bribes in South Africa, where widespread 
corruption has gutted state institutions and public programs, emerged 
after several days of explosive testimony, broadcast live nationwide, by 
Mr. Agrizzi at the inquiry. Mr. Agrizzi was the chief operating officer 
of Bosasa, a South African logistics company that he said handed out 
between $300,000 to $440,000 a month in cash bribes to senior A.N.C. 
officials to secure lucrative government contracts.

Mr. Agrizzi, who wrapped up his testimony on Tuesday, implicated by name 
not only powerful politicians, but also senior civil servants who he 
said had facilitated transactions or were paid to look away. Though 
Bosasa had long been accused of unethical and illegal conduct, the 
company continued to win government contracts through its ties with the 
A.N.C.

Even President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has pledged to clean up South 
Africa, is being investigated for his ties to Bosasa.

Last week, the public protector’s office, a government agency 
responsible for investigating corruption, started an investigation into 
$37,000 given by Bosasa to Mr. Ramaphosa’s campaign before party 
elections in December 2017 — and also into whether Mr. Ramaphosa misled 
Parliament about why that money was given.

On Tuesday, Mr. Ramaphosa met with the public protector, Busisiwe 
Mkhwebane, to discuss the case, said Oupa Segalwe, a spokesman for the 
office.

Initially, Mr. Ramaphosa said in Parliament that the payment had been 
made to his son, Andile, for doing consulting work for Bosasa. Mr. 
Ramaphosa later said that the money was donated by the company to his 
2017 campaign. He added that he had not been aware of the donation and 
pledged to return it.

“The president performed a spectacular about-turn and was forced to 
admit to the nation that his campaign received dirty money from Bosasa,” 
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition party, Democratic 
Alliance, said.

The reports come just months before national elections are expected to 
be held, most likely in May. Allies of Mr. Ramaphosa, who ousted Jacob 
Zuma from power a year ago.

“We’ve gone through a challenging number of years, nine years to be 
exact, where we seemed to lose our way, where we deviated from the path 
that you traditionally would have expected us to traverse,” Mr. 
Ramaphosa said last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 
Switzerland, referring to Mr. Zuma’s nine-year presidency.

But Mr. Agrizzi’s testimony indicated that malfeasance has long been — 
and still is — an integral part of the A.N.C., which has held power 
since the end of apartheid in 1994. Corruption, he testified, long 
predated Mr. Zuma’s presidency and involves officials in Mr. Ramaphosa’s 
own cabinet and in the party’s top hierarchy.

Established by leaders of the A.N.C.’s Women’s League, Bosasa was bought 
and then built up by a white South African businessman, Gavin Watson, 
who with his brothers became anti-apartheid heroes for playing rugby 
with black South Africans in the 1970s. After democracy was introduced 
in the 1990s, the Watsons used their links to the A.N.C. for business 
purposes. The company changed its name last year to African Global 
Operations.

Mr. Agrizzi served as Mr. Watson’s right-hand man but said he was coming 
clean after nearly dying during heart surgery in 2016. He said Bosasa’s 
business grew thanks to ties to the A.N.C. during the government of 
Thabo Mbeki.

By 2009, the company was under severe scrutiny: The Special 
Investigating Unit, a government agency, released a report detailing 
widespread fraud in Bosasa’s relations with officials overseeing the 
nation’s prisons.

But nothing came of the report or further investigations into Bosasa, 
Mr. Agrizzi said, because the company paid off national prosecutors and 
A.N.C. lawmakers on a parliamentary committee overseeing prisons.

Bosasa also bought protection from prosecutors by cultivating ties with 
Dudu Myeni, a close ally of Mr. Zuma, Mr. Agrizzi said. Ms. Myeni served 
for years as the head of South Africa’s now bankrupt national airline 
despite having no experience in the industry.

Bosasa funneled $22,000 a month to Mr. Zuma through her, Mr. Agrizzi 
said, adding that the money was once stuffed into a Louis Vuitton bag 
that sent Ms. Myeni “over the moon.” Mr. Zuma has not commented on the 
testimony.

As Bosasa sought further protection, Mr. Agrizzi said a monthly retainer 
was also paid to another close ally of Mr. Zuma, Nomvula Mokonyane, who 
was so quick in getting things done for the company that she was 
nicknamed the “Energizer Bunny.”

The company also rewarded Ms. Mokonyane — who is now Mr. Ramaphosa’s 
minister for environmental affairs — with the annual Christmas basket, 
and her daughter with cars, Mr. Agrizzi said.

Ms. Mokonyane’s lawyers said that her “right to procedural fairness” had 
been breached by the investigating panel and that she “felt betrayed” 
that newspapers had obtained Mr. Agrizzi’s prepared testimony.



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