Pieter du Toit

'Scent of a Woman', Agrizzi and the ANC: Will Mokonyane and Smith survive?

2019-01-23 06:02
Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell in 'Scent of a Woman'.

Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell in 'Scent of a Woman'.

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The ANC is finalising their final list to present to the electorate before the coming election. Will ANC leaders of questionable ethics like Nomvula Mokonyane and Vincent Smith be on that list? asks Pieter du Toit.

In Scent of a Woman, that classic movie in which Al Pacino plays the blind and fatalistic Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, Pacino's character unloads on a school principal trying to persecute Chris O'Donnell's character.

Pacino, as Slade, slams his walking cane on a table and scolds the principal about the quality of men his school produces. "As I came in here, I heard those words, 'cradle of leadership'. Well, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And it has fallen here… it has fallen. Makers of men, creators of leaders… be careful what kind of leaders you're producin' here," he spits out.

READ: Redi Tlhabi - Bosasa, Esidimeni outrage exposes our disengagement

On Monday the bough cradling the ANC's leaders again spectacularly crashed to the ground when Angelo Agrizzi, state capture's ultimate bagman, continued to slice away at the anatomy of the empire of corruption and bribery facilities management company Bosasa – now called African Global Operations – owned and operated.

Nomvula Mokonyane, who is without doubt one of the worst public officials the ANC has ever thrust upon society, allegedly received monthly bribes "for years". And Vincent Smith, who as a member of Parliament took an oath to defend the Constitution, seemingly abused his position to protect and advance Bosasa's corrupt interests.

But on Monday morning Zizi Kodwa, the ANC's intrepid propaganda chief, told Stephen Grootes on SAFM the governing party doesn't have a corruption problem. And over the weekend he said those implicated in state capture should go to the commission as individuals – they never acted on behalf of the ANC.

Kodwa, tasked with sanitising the ANC's soiled reputation, tried to convince Grootes that just because senior party members, like its former president, for example, are implicated in grand corruption doesn't mean the party is corrupted. He emphasised the new line that it's individuals, not the party, that are corrupt.

This is the same Kodwa who issued a breathless statement after the first reports emerged about Mcebisi Jonas and the Guptas' efforts to bribe him, rejecting them as efforts by the media to create the impression of an ANC leadership beholden to the Guptas. Well, if ever a statement hasn't aged well, it's that one. (Because of the ANC's non-payment to one of its service providers its old website was taken down, which means the exact text of the statement is now lost, perhaps forever.)

Agrizzi is a patently questionable character. He was in the middle of Bosasa's enterprises for years and a major cog in corrupting large parts of the civil service and the governing party. He paid off politicians and bureaucrats without thinking twice and explained that he was frustrated when the company didn't get the return on its greedy investment that it expected. He was at the very apex of the operation and there will be consequences for him.

But his testimony is vital to help South Africa understand the mechanics and logistics that go along with the major undertaking that is purchasing the state. The detail in his recollections are vivid and fairly consistent, given that it still needs to be tested and that he is desperate to secure immunity from prosecution.

The allegations against Mokonyane and Smith are detailed and serious. Mokonyane, as is her wont, dismissed the allegations and said she won't be paying any attention to it, even though Agrizzi described both her private and official home in detail, explained for how long she allegedly received money and what the expectation of her was.

This is of course the same Mokonyane who managed to maim the department of water and sanitation and who famously remarked that the rand can crash because it will merely be picked up again. If she is an efficient administrator and bureaucrat South Africans have yet to see it, because her record as minister is embarrassing, even by the current government's modest standards.

Agrizzi told the commission how he was sent wishlists from Mokonyane's office so that the minister could celebrate Christmas with consignments of chicken, meat, hard liquor and cases of mixed beers. She was influential in government and the ANC, Agrizzi was told, so she had to be kept happy.

And Smith, who was chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services seemingly used his clout as senior MP to massage the committee to Bosasa's advantage. In doing so he violated the Constitution and his oath as member of Parliament.

On Monday evening Kodwa was at it again, trying to extricate himself from some tough questions by John Perlman on Khaya FM. It isn't the party, he said, it is individuals who are implicated.

The ANC is finalising their final list to present to the electorate before the coming election. Will ANC leaders of questionable ethics like Mokonyane and Smith be on that list?

The party should take Colonel Slade's warning to heart: "Be careful what kind of leaders you're producin' here…"

- Pieter du Toit is News24 assistant-editor for in-depth news.

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