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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


‘Story lies in unusual revelation’: Political analyst weighs in on R500m bribery scandal

Former chair Mthunzi Mdwaba points fingers at three Cabinet ministers in the now-failed R5 billion UIF deal.


As the plot thickens in the alleged R500 million bribery scandal relating to an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) jobs deal, the accusation of corruption on ANC heavyweights should not come as a surprise, according to a political analyst. Former Productivity SA chair and Thuja Holdings chief executive Mthunzi Mdwaba alleged bribery against three Cabinet ministers in a “now failed UIF job deal”. Mdwaba accused the ministers of employment and labour, Thulas Nxesi, finance’s Enoch Godongwana and higher education, science and technology’s Blade Nzimande, and the ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula of trying to solicit a 10% bribe for the “now failed…

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As the plot thickens in the alleged R500 million bribery scandal relating to an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) jobs deal, the accusation of corruption on ANC heavyweights should not come as a surprise, according to a political analyst.

Former Productivity SA chair and Thuja Holdings chief executive Mthunzi Mdwaba alleged bribery against three Cabinet ministers in a “now failed UIF job deal”.

Mdwaba accused the ministers of employment and labour, Thulas Nxesi, finance’s Enoch Godongwana and higher education, science and technology’s Blade Nzimande, and the ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula of trying to solicit a 10% bribe for the “now failed UIF R5 billion deal”.

‘Slanderous campaign against ministers and myself’ – Mbalula

Mbalula said Mdwaba was reportedly under investigation by the department of employment and labour (DEL) for attempting to redirect funds to his private company and instead of addressing allegations against him, resorted to a “slanderous campaign against ministers and myself, and by extension oldest liberation movement in Africa”.

“In South African political parlance, it has become too easy to soil one another with the corruption tag. Corruption eats away at the very important gains of democracy; it defers the dreams of the entire nation, black and white,” he said.

ALSO READ: Thulas Nxesi denies allegations in R500-million UIF bribery scandal

“I have opened a case of crimen injuria against Mr Mdwaba because I want to make a clear statement on behalf of my family and the ANC. Let us encourage those with evidence of corruption to come forward and when they do so, we must protect them.

“But equally let us not tolerate the ‘juniorisation’ of the crime that is corruption to a point where it can be used a slander, which has no physical consequences but erodes the dignity of another.”

Mdwaba said the ministers had approached him through intermediaries in a bid to secure “gateway fees” of R500 million from a R5 billion UIF deal, which he had secured as seed capital to create employment for 750 000 people.

Thuja Holdings was set to sign on the R500 billion deal. However, last December Nxesi announced his department would put on hold the project by the Thuja Capital Fund Project, a subsidiary of Thuja Holdings, which was under the Labour Activation Programme run by the UIF and other partners.

Why did this businessman come out to make this allegation?

Political analyst Goodenough Mashego said: “Everybody knows [with] the big jobs, such as these huge billion-rand projects, there is a certain level of kickback that people have to pay to get them.

ALSO READ: Task team to give report on ‘poor treatment and delays’ at UIF within a week

“You can’t get those jobs without paying a kickback to those that are making donations and to another extent, the party or the government,” he said.

“We need to ask ourselves, why did this businessman come out to make this allegation, because usually they just don’t… They pay the kickback and they disappear.

“The big question is not why are they asking for money but why is he [Mdwaba] saying it? That is where the story lies.”

Why the Political Party Funding Act was passed

Mashego said this also went back to the issue of why the Political Party Funding Act was passed.

Part of the Act was for political parties to be able to disclose who was funding them because there was a trend whereby the big contracts were being given by government to the companies which funded the ANC.

ALSO READ: UIF scammer alert: Watch out for fraudsters posing as labour officials in Limpopo

“It reached a stage whereby it looked as if the ANC was funnelling money from government into its own coffers. The ANC had the companies like Chancellor House, which was more of a management company for big contracts.

“So, we should not be surprised, because even in 2010 when it came, there were lots of contracts that were going out and there was a certain level of corruption as well.

“It was corruption whereby companies that won these contracts ended up being the company that funded the political party.

“The idea of the Act was to make sure that if you won a big tender and end up funding the political party, the party must be able to disclose the relationship between you getting the tender and the political influence.”

Nxesi has denied that he was one of the ministers implicated in the R500-million scandal and Mbalula laid charges at the Sandton police station yesterday against Mdwaba over the allegations.

ALSO READ: TERS investigation: SIU retrieves R71m in fraudulent UIF funds

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