For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of the controversial Bosasa group of companies is at the state capture inquiry. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)
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When an insider who is complicit and guilty of committing crimes themselves decides to turn on his partners, what do you do with their evidence, asks Mandy Wiener.
It took a near death experience for former Bosasa executive Angelo
Agrizzi to come clean. After awakening from a coma as a result of heart
problems, Agrizzi and his family made a "conscious decision that we would
clean up where we had made mistakes before".
As the right-hand man to Gavin Watson at politically connected services
company Bosasa, the result of that has been a dramatic dropping of files at the
Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.
Agrizzi's testimony has been revelatory. It is the first time that the
inquiry has heard non-Gupta related evidence but also the first time that we
have heard from someone on the inside.
READ: Adriaan Basson: Bosasa is the ANC's heart of darkness
All previous witnesses have been whistleblowers or targets of corruptors,
like Cabinet ministers. This time it is the bagman, the paymaster himself, who
is drawing back the veil and taking us deep into the belly of the corruption
As the plumb, grey haired, somewhat charismatic businessman regaled the
commission with his video display, there was something familiar about his
testimony. In many ways, Agrizzi is Agliotti 2.0. The testimony of bags being
stuffed with piles of cash and being handed over to those with power and
influence was remarkably reminiscent of Glenn Agliotti's testimony about how
police officers, particularly Jackie Selebi, were bribed.
What is so shocking about both Agliotti's evidence nearly a decade ago
and Agrizzi's testimony this week, is the candor and brazenness on display. It
was as if this conduct was acceptable behaviour.
If Agrizzi is to be believed, Watson and his cohorts would sit in the
cash vault, casually counting out wads of "monopoly" money notes worth
millions and dishing out bags for executives to go out and bribe at will.
Oh, here's another ten grand. Off you go then. Bring back the tender. Issa
In fact, Agrizzi explained that he was so deeply involved in criminal
activity at Bosasa that he thought it was normal and above board. It was like
being part of "a cult". "You
become so engrossed with what is happening that you start believing that was is
happening is right. I was blunt, I kept quiet and I should have exposed those
illegal activities from day one," he told the commission.
There is little doubt that Agrizzi's Damascus moment was inspired by a
Darwinian desire to save himself. The net was closing in and he flipped,
choosing to reveal all in the hope of cutting a deal with officials.
This is invariably what happens in mafia, organised crime type
scenarios. The prosecutors need an insider who will give a first-hand account
and in return they will be offered indemnity from prosecution as part of Section
204 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The lieutenant will be compelled to tell the
truth, wholly and honestly. The court will then decide whether or not he should
be granted immunity from prosecution. In Agliotti's case, the judge found that
he was not honest and should be prosecuted. Luckily for him, that never
happened because the political will to do so fell away.
It's unclear, officially, whether Agrizzi has in fact been offered such
a deal but it seems to be an inevitability. We've been told there have been
threats against him and his life is in danger – the name of notorious enforcer
Mikey Schultz has even been thrown in for good measure to emphasis the threat
level. It's unlikely Agrizzi would have taken such a gamble without knowing
there was a deal on the table at least.
This scenario isn't unusual. Over the past few weeks, in a courtroom in
Brooklyn New York, the entrails of one of the world's largest mafia operations
have been spilling out. Alex Cifuentes, who has described himself as a onetime
right-hand man to Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, has
been testifying about bribes, including a payment to the former president of
The vexing question that so often comes up when an insider who is
complicit and guilty of committing crimes themselves decides to turn, is what
to do with their evidence. Their credibility is shot, often it is their word
against another's and revenge is at play.
When crooks fall out, they will do and say anything to save themselves. There's
no secret that Agrizzi had a fallout with his colleagues at Bosasa and there
has been a smear campaign running on both sides, with damning racist tape recordings
So what authorities have to do is find corroborating evidence, whether
it is another witness, video or audio recordings, bank records, phone records,
flight records – anything that can confirm the version presented by the
In Agrizzi's case, the commission says he has submitted evidence to prove his claims, which
includes audio recordings, photographs of confidential National Prosecuting
Authority (NPA) files on the company and a video of the CEO counting cash.
Investigators have then also had to confirm details like going off to check
whether the carpet on the floor of the sixth floor of the Sheraton Hotel indeed
matches the one in the photograph taken of the confidential NPA documents.
There is a huge amount at risk for Agrizzi and now we need to watch
closely what law enforcement authorities do with his testimony. It is crucial
to remember that prosecutors have been sitting with evidence against Bosasa for
years and done nothing with it.
We now know that was because officials at the top were allegedly
recipients of the Watson's "monopoly money". Now that it is all out
in the public domain, the Hawks and the NPA will have to move quickly to get
Agrizzi's testimony repeated in a court of law.
It is imperative that criminal cases flow from the testimony at the
Zondo commission and that convictions are handed down. If that happens, other
consiglieres and bagmen may be more willing to come forward and sing to save
themselves, bringing down empires of corruption around them.
- Wiener is a specialist reporter for News24.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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