The Zondo Commission report has sounded the alarm after it established a link between the corrupt granting of tenders and donations made to the African National Congress (ANC).
“It is a matter of extreme concern that the evidence given at the commission establishes a link between the corrupt grant of tenders and political party financing,” says the report made public late Tuesday.
The judicial inquiry, which found that “there was state capture” said the consequences were systemic weaknesses that enabled corruption including in political party financing.
“Such a link can represent an existential threat to our democracy,” warns the 874-page-report.
“It is inconceivable that political parties should finance themselves from the proceeds of crime, and yet there is alarming evidence to that effect.”
The findings also make reference to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) “Bribery in Public Procurement (2007)” report.
The OECD report notes that political party financing had been identified as a very serious problem area associated with corruption and bribery.
“Examples of corruption in public procurement associated with political party financing have been identified in many countries around the world and public procurement is certainly a means by which political parties divert public funds illegally to finance themselves,” said the OECD.
“Corruption can be seen to enter the political scene in several cases. Politicians may use their powers in view of establishing networks seeking control over sources of rents provided by public procurement.
“Once the network group obtains access to the administration, it may then put in place its own persons. Resources levied are then used to favour political parties. Bribes or kickbacks do not necessarily involve personal enrichment.
“Experts noted that corruption in public bidding and within public administrations may reflect a wider corruption phenomenon. Corruption in public markets may lead to a debate on the transparency of political party financing, and vice versa.”
The Zondo Commission report gives examples of corruption manifesting in high-value contracts.
The report says in at least two instances the proceeds of corruption were diverted to the ANC.
It says one example involves the then Johannesburg, Mayor Geoff Makhubo, in dealings with EOH.
According to the evidence Makhubo had solicited a donation to the ANC from EOH. He repeated that request a week after the contract had been awarded to EOH.
“In that case, it appears that a front company was used as a vehicle to channel money to the benefit of the ANC,” says the report.
“According to the evidence of Mr. Van Coller some R50 million was donated to the ANC by EOH for the 2016 local government elections.”
Another example, says the report, involves the Free State provincial government in its dealing with Blackhead Consulting.
“Blackhead Consulting received a number of lucrative contracts including a 2014 asbestos audit tender valued at R255 million from the Free State government and between 2013 – 2018,” says the report.
It found that Blackhead Consulting made payments amounting to millions of rand to the ANC.
However, the report says the evidence before the commission did not seek to establish the full extent of corruption associated with political party financing or the extent to which other political parties may also have been implicated.
While the two examples were “more than enough to sound the alarm”, the report also points to the BOSASA shenanigans.
The evidence heard by the commission revealed that BOSASA was deeply involved in corruption for many years which involved tenders from government departments or government entities such as the department of correctional services (prisons) and the department of home affairs and the Airports Company.
The evidence revealed that BOSASA made donations to the ANC in cash and in kind.
“It cannot be that it only gave the ANC ‘clean’ money or that it did not spend ‘dirty’ money on the ANC,” says the report.
“It goes without saying that these cases need to be prioritised by the National Prosecuting Authority.”