Zondo vs Ngcobo – the strange tale of two Presidential corruption reports #Spygate

WITHIN the space of months, South Africa has seen two separate reports implicating the Presidency in alleged corrupt activities. The first report was that of the Zondo Commission into Allegations of State Capture, whose first volume was handed over on 4 January, followed by the the second, third and fourth volumes handed over on 1 February 2022, 1 March 2022 and 29 April 2022 respectively, to Director-General in The Presidency, Ms Phindile Baleni.

This was followed by volumes 5 & 6 including an ‘amended version of the Zondo Report which incorporated corrections made by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chaired the Commission. The October release followed the granting of permission by the Pretoria High Court on the 4th of October 2022, to allow Chief Justice Zondo to ‘make corrections to the final volume of the report’ which was submitted to the Presidency in June 2022.

Next up on 1 December 2022, the Ngcobo Report, emanating from a Section 89 panel chaired by Justice Sandile Ngcobo appeared. This secondary report detailed the strange events at Phala Phala, a game ranch associated with current President Ramaphosa.

Where the far larger Zondo Report comprising 5500 pages focused on corruption allegations implicating former President Jacob Zuma and his compound Nkandla, alongside the siphoning of millions of Rands into various accounts associated with what appears to be an elaborate, and treasonous attempt to create a corrupt parallel ‘state within a state’, the rather thin 82 page Ngcobo Report appears to be very tame in comparison.

The single volume Ngcobo Report found that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have contravened various sections of the Constitution, ‘acting in a manner that was inconsistent with his office’ and thus acts which may be considered impeachable offences. As Ngcobo put it, the president ‘had a case to answer to’ for events surrounding a 2020 burglary at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. Whether the result amounts to corruption in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004 remains to be seen. It is clear at first glance, that the President himself, was not involved in the actual burglary, but possibly involved in money laundering, at very least they are contraventions of the regulations.

The report itself however, is more an indictment of the executive than the President alone: “Given the high rank in the police hierarchy that these senior police office hold, we can assume they knew that theft which involves such huge amount had to be reported to the police official in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation. Why they did they not do so? We do not have an explanation for failure to report the offence under Section 34(1).

Rogue Spy Boss

It is of grave concern that former Zuma spy-boss Arthur Fraser, whose name appears no less than 48 times in the document and who is a man also at the centre of the Zondo findings appears to be the sole source of much of the hearsay evidence referred to in the Ngcobo Report. As the Rand tanked, instead of resigning President Ramaphosa now appears to have taken the report on judicial review, while the US Chamber of Commerce issued dire warnings concerning the country’s future economic stability.

It should be remembered that it was the minority opposition party Cope which first laid criminal charges against Fraser citing allegations contained in the final section of the Zondo Commission’s report. He appears implicated in allegations on the mishandling and distribution of large amounts of money from the SSA. This fact alone would tend to disqualify him from presenting evidence in what seems like a smear campaign.

Fraser is also set to face criminal charges for unlawfully releasing Zuma from Prison, and by some accounts is potentially the most dangerous criminal in South Africa today, especially given the failure to implement the findings of the Khampepe Commission of Inquiry, his position within the intelligence community, and serious nature of the allegations involving his so-called ‘Principal Agent Network’ (PAN)? For example, a nerve centre that received information from PAN, was located in Fraser’s house, in the process compromising national security. The commission noted that ‘centralization of power in Fraser’ resulted in him’ ‘acting like he was the Director-General of the SSA. Secondly, there was no control by the Director-General; it became a free for all and Mr Fraser was a law unto himself’.

It is even more alarming that the six volume Zondo Report, was immediately preceded by the arson attack on the House of Assembly by one Zandile Mafe, an event which occurred alongside the burning of House records, and the extremely brief Ngcobo Report thus comes on the tail end of several such attempts at orchestrating a broad-based insurrection (such as occurred in July 2021) at the behest of those named in the Zondo Report.

Smear Campaign

Given the context of these events, the Ngcobo Report appears nothing less than a calculated, if thinly veiled attempt by the protagonists to distract the public’s attention with a similar, but less implicating controversy for the ruling party, a party which has been at pains to spin its ‘mass appeal’ and thus a ‘revolutionary narrative’. Wave another magic wand, and the masses I suspect, will think the next President is tastier than a Ranch Fried Chicken?

This whilst the perpetrators named in the Zondo Report, (also the subject of various shenanigans during and subsequent to its release) escape further scrutiny, and the grand party manages to shift public focus, to presumably recover electoral ground?

Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan claims “the President has been set-up”. He is certainly being framed for a fall during the next ANC leadership battle, whatever the outcome, this while the brains behind Nkandla and the associated spook antics during the course of the past months, set the stage for a come back?

Where the daily press were quick to label the events at Phala Phala, ‘#Farmgate’, no similar appellation was given the contents of the far more damning Zondo Report — a case of the press being captured? One need not go too far to suggest anything more fanciful than #Nkandlagate? So how about #Spygate? A common theme, all involving a massive failure in intelligence?

Citizens are bound to be asking questions as to whether any of the troubling cases referred to, from either of these two executive reports, will ever come up in court, but the bet here is that Ramaphosa’s case will reach a verdict a lot faster than the high treason surrounding Nkandla. One can only hope that our institutions prevail, that the country maintains its democratic path.

UPDATE: IOL are today alleging that the President received millions of Rands in donations from various foreign countries, apparently based upon Arthur Fraser’s Affidavit. The Affidavit only refers to an ‘undisclosed sum’ and does not mention these countries as the origin.

Zuma’s long road to Serfdom

THE ZUMA administration is the subject of a number of public embarrassments. All involve, maladministration, graft and the failure to abide by the rule of law. The latest comes with the release of a report into the 2012 Marikana massacre which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, and more than 70 persons being injured.

The Farlam Commission appointed by president Zuma, predictably, whitewashes the administration’s involvement in the events which lead up to the massacre. Deputy-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was non-executive director of Lonmin, a significant shareholder in the company (through its shareholding structures), and a senior member of the ANC at the time, has been given a clean bill of health, so too the political structure and chain of command which lead directly to the massacre.

The release of the report comes days after scandals involving the failure to arrest Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir wanted by the International Criminal Court and international community for the Darfur Genocide, and just weeks after a FIFA bribery scandal involving Danny Jordaan and under-the-counter payments made in exchange for votes.

Only a month earlier, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was telling the public that additions to the Zuma compound at Nkandla such as a swimming pool and amphitheatre, were all vital “security features”, for which the president “is therefore not liable to pay”.

The embarrassments are leading ordinary South Africans to ask whether it is perhaps time for Zuma to go?

South Africa under Msholozi, the clan name under which Zuma is also known, has seen a bloated cabinet, one of the biggest in the world, with a concomitant increase in departmental complexity,  government red-tape and an out of control civil service, as the modus operandi of the country has moved from industrial output, to the aegis of big government, a nation which produces politicians instead of productivity.

Anyone following the debate over Eskom’s tariff increases, could be forgiven for thinking that South Africans exist to fund the energy parastatal and its emphasis on Soviet-style gigantism — two large fossil fuel projects and a failed R10 billion Pebble-bed Modular Reactor programme, and now the threat of a BRICS-lead trillion rand nuclear build, for which the country undoubtedly, has insufficient foreign reserves to foot the bill, when and if it arrives.

Eskom, despite having a monopoly mandate, increasingly finds itself unable to provide electricity. The simple logic of the market has proven to be an Achilles heel. The increase in the civil service has not countered the loss of jobs in the private sector.

That the economic master-plan of the ruling party, known as the National Development Plan, along with its  shibboleth of central planning and anti-privatisation rhetoric, is beginning to unravel, can be seen in the failure of other parastatals to deliver. In short, Telkom sucks, as does SAA which exists on annual bail-outs. (There are some 120 such quasi-government entities)

20 years after the constituent assembly drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ushering in a universal franchise and human rights, the country is paying lip-service to its contents, institutions such as the public protector are ignored. Likewise, the judiciary.

Under Zuma, a narrow ethnic nationalism has found itself at odds with the secular values established under previous governments. The president has cemented power, rolling out salary increases for “headmen” (what no women?) under a new dispensation which favours tribal authority at the expense of citizenship and the rights of the individual.

Thus the road to serfdom, instead of the great society of Nelson Mandela.