State Capture: Zwane denies ordering advance payments from Free State housing funds

Mosebenzi Zwane.
Mosebenzi Zwane.
Sizwe Ndingane
  • Mosebenzi Zwane has denied ordering advance payments from Free State housing funds.
  • Zwane said he also knew nothing about a payment to the office of former premier Ace Magashule by a company directed by a man Magushule had separate business dealings with.
  • Zwane said this during his return to the Zondo Commission on State Capture which is trying to get to the bottom of the payments.   

Mosebenzi Zwane stood firm that he had nothing to do with the controversial advance payment of almost R500 million to select housing contractors that did not have to bid for work when he was the Human Settlements MEC in the Free State.

Zwane said he also knew nothing about a payment to the office of former premier Ace Magashule from a company that had been paid.

He also denied threatening the head of department if he did not sign off on the advance payment scheme, or that he gave the head of department a list of companies that should be paid.

"I’d never dealt with him or did anything that was indicative of the fact that I was a monster in that department," said Zwane.

He said this during the Judicial Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State.

He also denied being told about concerns over the advance payment scheme, forcing anybody to do anything, or knowingly doing anything unlawful.

He said his role was an oversight role. 

The commission is trying to get to the bottom of what happened to around R500 million advance payments for a R1.4 billion housing project, for which little was provided, and procurement processes were allegedly flouted.

The Free State government had a former head of department Mpho Mokoena, who previously testified that after telling Zwane that his idea of an advance payment to contractors was illegal and that contractors could not be paid without work being done, Zwane said he should resign if he did not want to implement his plan. 

Allegations of threats

He said Zwane threatened him that his house would be taken away by the bank and his children would be taken out of school. 

In 2010 and 2011 people in the Free State were supposed to get houses, but many were not built. The commission had heard that there was no paperwork for the project, and that Zwane would decide who got the work. More than 100 contractors were paid. The money was spent when the Free State government was at risk of losing unspent money. 

READ | It was never about the money, but the people of Free State, Zwane tells Zondo commission

Zwane said he had merely raised the possibility of advance payments to help contractors in the province, and that the intention was only to get opinions on it, and then thrash it out. It was not an instruction to actually go ahead with it.

He said he did not know a man called Blackie Seoe, a co-director of a firm Sambal Investments, that Magashule was also a director of. 

He only knew of Seoe, who is now dead, as a sports and boxing enthusiast in the Free State. 

He did not know that R7 million of the R431 million advance payment that was made to Seoe's separate construction-related company Rob's Bricks flowed out again from a related company Rob's Holdings into an account in the premier's office. The payment was acknowledged by Magashule's personal assistant Moroadi Cholota.

He also said that although he had met Rochelle Els, a member of a company "close" to Magashule, he had nothing to do with the claims that payments to her business for housing work were expedited. 

Zwane's evidence ended on Friday afternoon, and in a moment of bonhomie he thanked the commission for its work and said although he hoped he would not have to come back again over the Christmas holidays, he would if necessary.

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