ANC calls for thorough probe of alleged Bongo bribe offer

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)

Cape Town - The ANC has expressed its concern over weekend media reports that a bribe had been offered to Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, the evidence leader of Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom.

“The ANC in Parliament takes serious exception to allegations of attempts to collapse this inquiry and derail the work of Parliament. We welcome Parliament’s referral of the matter to the ethics committee and trust that the committee will act with the necessary speed to thoroughly investigate these allegations,’ the office of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Monday. 

This weekend The Sunday Times reported that it had seen an affidavit by Vanara in which he alleged that State Security Minister Bongani Bongo had offered him a bribe.

According to the report, Bongo told Vanara he was instructed by acting Eskom board chair Zethembe Khoza to offer the bribe to collapse the inquiry. 

Khoza has denied the allegations. In a statement on Monday afternoon he said that he had "never spoken to Mr Bongo, and I have never met him". 

“We take allegations of bribery very serious(ly) and as a consequence, apart from a parliamentary investigation, we call upon law enforcement authorities to investigate this matter,” said the ANC.

"We further condemn any threats made to any Member of Parliament or staff who are party to this inquiry and advise them to report any such threats to our police.”

‘Devious intentions’

The ANC said that nobody with “devious intentions” must be allowed to collapse a programme of Parliament. 

“We reiterate our full support for this inquiry and encourage the portfolio committee on public enterprises to leave no stone unturned to unearth any wrongdoing at our state-owned companies,” it said. 

Former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi testified before the committee last week that he had been invited to a meeting at the house of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, which also included Tony Gupta and Gupta business associate Salim Essa. 

Brown, in her own testimony, denied the meeting took place. 

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance on Sunday said it would write to Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to "demand protection for both members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises currently investigating allegations of state capture at Eskom as well as the witnesses appearing before the inquiry".

"It is clear from recent media reports that those implicated in the illicit activity at Eskom will stop at nothing to hamper the investigation into state capture," DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said in a statement. 

"It has already emerged that witnesses appearing before this committee are at risk, as evidenced in Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara’s affidavit in which he alleges that State Security Minister Bongani Bongo attempted to bribe him to step down as evidence leader in the inquiry," he said.  

The committee is not set to hear evidence this week, but will meet on Wednesday to assess what it has heard and consider how to proceed with its inquiry.

Committee spokesperson Yoliswa Landu said on Monday it has made an application to hear witnesses during the week of December 5 to 8, but did not say which witnesses would be called. 

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