Here is the EFF's 'evidence' on Gordhan's daughter - and why their claims are bogus

2018-11-22 08:42

Firebrand Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema launched a scathing attack on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday, labelling him a racist and corrupt.

He made startling claims over contracts Gordhan's eldest daughter, Anisha, was allegedly awarded by National Treasury and other government departments, seemingly as a result of her father's position in government.

READ: 'Fighters, be ready' - Malema gets ready to go to war with Pravin Gordhan

Malema was speaking outside the venue of the state capture inquiry while Gordhan was giving evidence before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. 

The claims were repeated in a statement issued by the EFF later on Tuesday evening.

This includes that "her business", largely Vox Telecommunications, was awarded "well over" R80m worth of contracts by government. Malema repeated this claim in this tweet:

News24 has obtained six of the 11 answers by ministers to parliamentary questions the EFF filed, seeking information from all government departments on contracts awarded to companies of which Anisha was at some point a director.

Coupled with a basic search of company records, News24 has established that the EFF's claims about Gordhan junior benefitting from these contracts are bogus.

It appears rather to be a small nugget of truth being embroidered to suit a broader narrative that Malema and the EFF wished to present to the public.

READ: Malema, Shivambu linked to VBS cash – report

While Vox Telecom, the largest company highlighted by Malema and the EFF, has in fact done business with government, Anisha Gordhan would not have gained a financial benefit from her directorship of these entities.

But Vox is also one of the largest telecommunications and IT companies in the country with a reported value of R3bn.

It is no surprise then that Vox would bid for, and be awarded, several government contracts.

ANALYSIS: Gordhan places Zuma at the centre of state capture

Gordhan himself also denied the claims over his daughter doing business with government on Wednesday during his closing arguments after three days of testimony before the commission of inquiry into state capture.

For the sake of clarity, we have used the written statement issued by the EFF as our main reference document to fact-check the claims. We also included some tweets.

Here's what we found:

Malema/EFF claim: Vox Telecommunications "belongs" to Anisha Gordhan (the statement refers to Vox as "Anusha's business") and Vox was registered shortly after Gordhan became minister of finance.

The facts:

Anisha Gordhan was a non-executive director of Vox Telecommunications. According to her Bloomberg profile, she was employed at Investec in their private equity department.

Investec was part of a consortium which included Rand Merchant Bank and Lereto Metier Private Equity that in 2011 purchased Vox Telecom for R452m.

This is the reason for the company registration date reflecting as 2011, and which gave rise to the claim it was registered shortly after Gordhan senior was appointed as a cabinet minister in May 2009.

Her position as a non-executive director of Vox Telecoms was as a result of her employment with Investec, which no doubt would have required board representation thanks to its position as a major shareholder of Vox.

This is standard practice, and can also be seen with Public Investment Corporation staff who are placed at boards of companies the PIC invests with – this is true of Airports Company South Africa, as well as VBS Mutual Bank, before its collapse.

In comparison, board members of state-owned companies such as Eskom and Transnet also reflect as non-executive directors which in more common terms, are board members.

Boards conduct oversight and ensure good governance but board members are not paid dividends from a company's shares or salaries.

Therefore, Gordhan junior's position as a non-executive director of Vox Telecoms would not have yielded any financial gain.

She was already paid a salary by Investec and as part of her duties would have served as non-executive on boards of companies in which the investment bank had an equity stake.

But by no stretch of the imagination is it correct or even plausible to refer to Vox as "Anusha's [SIC] company".

Company records show that Anisha Gordhan resigned as a director of Vox Telecommunications and Vox Holdings in September and November 2017 respectively, around the same time she left Investec.

Investec also issued a statement on Wednesday confirming that Anisha Gordhan had not received any payment stemming from her position as non-executive director. 

ALSO READ: Gordhan's daughter received no direct payments as non-executive director - Investec 

Malema/EFF claim: "Anusha's [SIC] business has amassed well over R80m worth of state tenders from only 11 ministerial responses immediately after registration of her companies."

The facts:

We have already pointed out why Vox Telecom does not "belong" to Gordhan junior and, therefore, the entire claim that she amassed more than R80m could simply not be true.

Companies where she served as non-executive director, however, did do business with various government departments and entities.

Based on six of the 11 Parliamentary responses to the EFF, News24 was able to find some key facts they decided not to share with the country.

The responses seen by News24 are from the ministers of agriculture, energy, public works, economic development, trade and industry and arts and culture.

In total, between January 2009 and November 2018, Vox Telecom was awarded contracts worth around R50.6m.

Some of these contracts were awarded for periods ranging from 30 days, two years and up to five and 10 years.

One of the three largest contracts awarded to Vox is a three-year R10.6m contract for the supply internet services to the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries which ran from October 2015 to September 2018.

This contract was renewed at R10.5m over five years from October 1, 2018 to September 2023. This renewal was awarded after Gordhan junior resigned as a Vox Director.

The third contract is R17.8m over five years Vox was awarded by the Perishable Produce Export Agency to setup its Wide Area Network infrastructure. This was awarded to Vox in 2015.

The EFF has not presented any proof that Gordhan junior personally benefited from any of these contracts and her former employer, Investec, has denied she benefited directly.

Malema/EFF Claim: "Anusha [SIC], through a company called Hulisani, is a beneficiary of REIPPP and continues to use the money made through other state tenders to expand her shareholding in the renewable energy, as the efforts to collapse and privatise Eskom continues."

The facts:

Anisha Gordhan was a director of a company called Hulisani Consortium from June 2015 to August 2017. Again, she resigned from Hulisani when she left Investec late last year.

And Hulisani does not seem to be in the energy business as claimed.

In June 2017, the Competition Tribunal approved the acquisition of the Afrit Group by Investec.

The structures of the companies is complicated  - but Hulisani Consortium RF held 51% of the issued share capital in Afrit and Van de Wetering Industriee Holdings which in turn held 48.98% of share capital in Afrit.

Basically, Investec bought the Afrit Group through purchasing the share capital of Hulisani Consortium.

Investec, through a subsidiary, had at the time already owned a 46.4% shareholding in Hulisani, hence Gordhan junior's name appearing as a director.

She resigned from Investec a month after the Competition Tribunal approved Investec's full acquisition of the Afrit Group.

EFF Claim: On Wednesday, EFF National Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted that Gordhan junior was resigning with "supersonic speed" from the companies the EFF was highlighting.

The facts:

Ndlozi attached screenshots of from the CIPC website showing the companies linked to Gordhan jnr, but not the actual date she resigned.

A more detailed company records search showed that Gordhan resigned from these companies between May 2015 and November 2017 and not only when the EFF started making noise about the companies in question. 

News24 on Wednesday also sent an inquiry to the National Treasury to determine which companies linked to Gordhan junior got tenders between January 2009 and November 2018, what these contracts were and when they were awarded.

This story will be updated as soon as that information becomes available.

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Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema  |  pravin gor­dhan  |  state capture  |  politics  |  state capture inquiry
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