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.

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