Former provincial KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Zweli Mkhize and the ex-financial manager, Delani Mzila, have cast doubt on the veracity of testimony of the party’s provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu that a R1 million donation he received in June 2008 was not from Uruguayan businessperson Gaston Savoi in exchange for a government tender.
At his initial appearance before the Zondo commission in May, Mabuyakhulu admitted that he had received R1 million “for the benefit of the ANC” from former provincial treasury boss Sipho Shabalala.
He said the money was a donation to the ANC and was given to him as provincial treasurer at the time, an exchange that happened at the party’s offices on June 11 2008.
Asked by commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo whether he had followed the ANC processes of properly depositing the money so that there were records and receipts of the payment, Mabuyakhulu said the pressures of hosting the conference dictated that the money be used immediately.
But Mabuyakhulu claimed that this donation was declared “to ANC officials” at provincial conference that met nine days later (on June 20-22 2008). He added that Mkhize, the provincial chairperson at the time, had deposed an affidavit before the commission to that effect.
As he did in May, on Tuesday evening Mabuyakhulu insisted that the R1 million donation he received from Shabalala was separate from the R1 056 204.98 paid to 14 companies by Savoi’s Intaka Holdings. Shabalala had acted as an intermediary in those transactions.
Intaka then went on to win a multimillion-rand tender from the provincial health department after the disbursing of this R1 056 204.98, which Mabuyakhulu sought to distance himself from.
Mabuyakhulu, who last month became the first ANC leader to step aside in line with the national executive committee’s resolution for those charged with corruption, was adamant that claims linking the R1 million he received directly to the R1 056 204.98 given by Savoi where untrue, but Mkhize and Mzila’s affidavits contracted him.
Mkhize’s affidavit on the R1 million donation, as read by evidence leader Advocate Garth Hulley said: “I am aware that Shabalala has requested that Dr Savoi make a donation to the ANC and I am also aware that a donation was received from Shabalala by the ANC. This awareness [of the R1 million donated to the ANC by Savoi] is as a consequence of reports I received from the then treasurer of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal Mabuyakhulu”.
Further compounding Mabuyakhulu’s precarious position was Sibusisiwe Ngubane-Zulu, of Ngubane and Wills Inc, the law firm that represented the provincial ANC in the matter. On Monday Ngubane-Zulu told the commission that she was told by either Mabuyakhulu or Mzila that the R1 million donation to the ANC received by Mabuyakhulu was received from Savoi.
However, Mzila, in his affidavit said this information “definitely did come from him”. This position was supported by Mabuyakhulu’s own testimony on Tuesday that while he had told Mzila of the donation, he had not told him the amount and whom it had come from.
This left Hulley to conclude that “this information [regarding where the money came from] could have only come from you”.
Mabuyakhulu denied this, saying his testimony during both his appearances was “as clear as daylight” in its denial that the donation came from Savoi. He added that Hulley was misreading what Mkhize was trying to communicate in his affidavit.
“You have a scenario were in the case of Savoi’s donation, we now know from the reports before the high court and forensic auditor Trevor White’s report that this money [the R1 056 204.98] was deposited into the accounts of Kuboni Shezi Attorneys on March 12 2007, and the fund’s disbursement began even before the funds where deposited … and all those funds where utilised in their entirety by August 21 2007,” said Mabuyakhulu.
He also questioned how it would have been possible for these funds that had been depleted to be given to him in June 2008.
Mabuyakhulu’s lawyer repeated the same question during his cross-examination of PwC’s forensic auditor White, who investigated the money flow and implicated the embattled provincial deputy chairperson.
White indicated that it was his conclusion that the money had been laundered by Shabalala through the various entities that “appear” to have been paid during 2007, “hence the reason Shabalala handed over the money in cash”.
This was rubbished by Mabuyakhulu’s lawyer who said while White was a brilliant forensic auditor, his ambit was limited to investigating financial records, bank accounts and drawing certain conclusions while the assessment of evidence was not a competence in his armoury.