Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo is under fire for having used his “influence” to source donations for the ANC in the region from information technology (IT) service management company EOH in exchange for channelling city tenders to the IT giant.
This emerged at the Zondo state capture commission on Wednesday during the testimony of ENSafrica’s head of forensics Steven Powell.
According to Powell, EOH Holdings bankrolled the ANC in Johannesburg just as the City of Johannesburg had a tender to upgrade its IT infrastructure.
Powell testified that there were a lot of donation requests around the time of the adjudication of the tender. He said the 2016 tender to upgrade the city’s SAP system was worth R404 million. “It’s just unheard of; it’s just wrong.”
He told commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the subsidiary, EOH Mthombo, received intelligence that the City of Johannesburg was about to advertise the SAP upgrade tender. EOH’s revenue from the City of Johannesburg was R250 million a year and the company had a full technical and political strategy for the contract.
Powell detailed two particular periods in which these events unfolded – 2013/14 and 2015/16 – when Makhubo was regional treasurer for the ANC as well as Johannesburg’s MMC for finance.
During these time frames, the ANC in the greater Johannesburg region was preparing to host regional conferences for the parent body, the ANC Youth League, the Veterans League and several public campaigns – all fully paid for by EOH – as well as the local government elections in 2016, which saw them lose their outright majority in the city.
Some of the money was channelled towards a company of which Makhubo and a relative were active directors.
Patrick Makhubedu of EOH Managed Services was the central figure, the commission heard, who facilitated the payments and went as far as drafting “thank you” letters by the ANC, which would be signed by Makhubo.
“R582 000 was paid out to the ANC for a conference for dinner, accommodation, administration and décor. The funds were requested by Makhubo and processed by Makhubedu. Again, Chair, this was disguised as a payment to the City of Johannesburg,” Powell said.
He explained that part of the political strategy was meeting with former mayor Parks Tau’s “people”.
Tau was Johannesburg mayor from 2011 until 2016 and is now the deputy cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister.
Makhubo’s company, Molelwane Consulting, also received donations from EOH and no formal tender process was conducted before the tenders were awarded to EOH, according to Powell. He added that, although Makhubo resigned as a director of Molelwane Consulting in 2019, bank statements show how Molelwane was paid R1.35 million in 2012. An invoice from 2016 shows how EOH transferred R507 000 to Molelwane for services rendered on a contract. However, no proof of work can be found.
Powell said tenders were granted in exchange for donations.
The ANC Tshwane region also requested assistance from EOH to pay for its service providers within a week ahead of its conference in September 2014.
According to Powell, a letter was sent to EOH executive director and shareholder Jehan Mackay in 2015 for a host of ANC expenses which included footing the bill for the party’s monthly expenses for several months.
Some of the items listed include monthly administration, stipends, vehicle financing, T-shirts, badges and Women’s Month celebrations. Makhubo requested R900 000 to R6 million with a thank-you note saying “your support is highly appreciated and we thank you in advance for strengthening our democracy”.
Makhubo is expected to appear before the commission on Friday.