As law enforcement agencies swooped on alleged beneficiaries of corruption and circled political bigwigs last week, there is a lot of information to sift through and make sense of, from who's who to how they fit into the bigger picture.
Added to that, the internal politics of the ANC has also played out as many people believe the high-profile arrests are part of a campaign aimed at influencing the balance of forces ahead of crucial conferences next year and in 2022.
Here is a condensed version of all that information:
1. ‘Hotshots’ are being arrested
Last week, the Hawks pounced on several high-profile individuals involved in corruption-related activities. They included flashy businessperson and the generous ANC benefactor Edwin Sodi, former senior MP Vincent Smith, police officials, businesspeople and even a municipal manager. City Press revealed on Sunday that those who are in the crosshairs of the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority include a senior leader of the ANC, a former Cabinet minister, and several other officials.
2. It involved millions of rands
The Asset Forfeiture Unit won a court order to freeze R300 million worth of assets – including properties and luxury cars – belonging to people involved in the Free State asbestos scandal.
The asbestos eradication project in the Free State was worth R255 million but only R21 million was spent on the actual project.
3. It’s serious stuff
The arrests were the culmination of collaborative work involving the Hawks, the NPA and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). At least one leader interviewed by City Press was confident that, unlike in the past when cases crumbled after arrests, cooperation between different law enforcement wings would ensure success in convictions and jail-time.
The Hawks have, according to sources, been getting cooperation from the arrested suspects in the failed asbestos project and are expecting them to implicate others in damning statements. City Press has learnt that at least one government official places a national leader at the centre of the asbestos project.
4. The backlash is real
There is anger over what some in the party described to be “Hollywood-style arrests” conducted by the Hawks. The media presence during arrests and at court appearances has been described as “desperation to score political points and intended to embarrass political opponents” within the party.
An ANC NEC member said the arrests were so public this time because they generated the perception that the action being taken against the individuals was founded on facts.
“The drama could be meant to try to build a different public perception that people involved in alleged state capture are not being arrested.”
5. ANC’s finances affected
Another source predicted that the arrests would deepen the ANC’s financial troubles because potential donors may become worried that giving money to the party would attract unwarranted attention.
Some sources have questioned why those who donated money to Ramaphosa’s #CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency in 2017 are not being targeted by law enforcement agencies, despite the fact that some had since scored appointments to boards of state-owned enterprises and others got government business.
“Is that not corruption? Is that not a reward? Is it not corruption when you do something and you get something back in return?”