Part 3 of the Zondo Report Focuses on BOSASA

At last the much anticipated third and final Zondo report was released this month, what follows is a pithy summary of its contents. It structurally consists of four volumes, detailing the shady shenanigans that took place, between the African National Congress (ANC) members on instructions of their leaders, ANC government officials and BOSASA. Descriptively BOSASA is a South African company, which had its headquarters in Krugersdorp. The BOSASA Group was made up of the BOSASA Youth Development Centres and BOSASA Operations (subsequently renamed to African Global Operations since 2017). BOSASA’s deliverable products were listed as providing business services and catering to the government’s correctional services facilities. At this point, the latter claim has turned out, to be a partial truth. By all accounts BOSASA was an ordinary company, until Gavin Watson (1948-2019) bought the company, in the year 2000. Since then Gavin Watson has been BOSASA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and from 2004, he has astutely masterminded contracts, scrutinised in Zondo’s third leg of his report. Although unverified at this stage, it is however doubtful that BOSASA is still operational. The latter scepticism emanates from the aftermath of banks, who decided to disassociate themselves by closing BOSASA’s accounts since February 2019, due to the overwhelming corruption charges levelled against BOSASA. The pressure of being forensically investigated, eventually compelled BOSASA to declare voluntary liquidation. That must have been the final nail, to BOSASA’S operations. Gavin Watson’s meteoric rise a la a successful BOSASA, is allegedly linked to his family’s struggle credentials, waged against the Apartheid regime. Gavin Watson is the eldest of four of the Christian and former rugby players. Reference to family specifically refers to Gavin Watson’s younger brothers, Ronald Watson and Valence Watson, who were former intelligence agents for the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP), while Daniel ‘Cheeky’ Watson was the ex-white rugby player, who shunned a springbok call up in 1976, in favour of playing with black rugby players.

This third segment of the Zondo report, lists ANC leaders who operated as facilitators for Gavin Watson, to secure lucrative government tenders, in exchange for kickbacks for both the individuals involved in executing the shady business transactions and sponsoring the ANC. The acquired tenders by BOSASA were listed in detail by Angelo Agrizzi, the former Chief Operating officer (COO) of BOSASA. Amongst the list of tenders shrewdly secured, include those of Sasol, the South African Post Office (SAPO), the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), the Department of Correctional Services, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Education, the Department of Transport and the Department of Social Services in the North West Province. Agrizzi’s dubious revelations from his ‘black book’ may explicate, why he topped the list of witnesses, who testified on BOSASA, in this third leg of the Zondo report. His fellow BOSASA employees who also testified included Andries van Tonder, Frans Vorster, Richard le Roux, Leon van Tonder and Tony Perry. As for implicated ANC leaders and government officials, the list included among others the ex-minster of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour, the ex-Minister of Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane, the ex-National Assembly member Vincent Smith, the former Secretary General of the ANC and current Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla and both ex-president Jacob Zuma and current President Cyril Ramaphosa. We may add to this list, ex-chairperson of the South African Airways (SAA) board Duduzile Myeni and buddying businessman and the president’s eldest son Andile Ramaphosa. Although the latter sample of suspects have denied any participation in alleged corruption, including amongst others money laundering, cash generation and bribery, this Zondo report reflects that prima facie cases of corruption have been established against them, on the strength of Prevention and Combating of Corruption Activities (PRECCA). Arrests must henceforth be imminent. Anything less will be a travesty to constitutional claims, of equality before the law.

Unlike the previous two Zondo Commission reports, this third report is unique in its compilation of four separate volumes, all focused on BOSASA’s alledged role in state capture. In a nutshell the first volume of this third Zondo report comprises of an introduction (which highlights the aims and mission of this report), then the commission’s terms of reference, list of individuals who appeared before the commission and witness’s rights, list of persons and entities, witnesses who testified about BOSASA, a summary of evidence collected on BOSASA, an evaluation of evidence pertaining to BOSASA, findings and alas recommendations. The second volume contains the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) report, which delves into the illegal role played by the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) officials, in the form of the compromised Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi. Prospective readers may find it quite disturbing, to read how the latter two, attempted to destroy any incriminating evidence which may be used against BOSASA, foremostly in order to protect former President Jacob Zuma. It will certainly be a busy year in the courts, for the ex-president.

The third volume of this final Zondo report featured details about the Special Projects team, the role of consultants, former employees and related entities, Agrizzi’s resignation and subsequent developments which amongst others included threats against him. Alas the fourth volume of this final Zondo report features the evaluation of the evidence gathered, then alas provides findings and recommendations vis-à-vis the BOSASA debacle. Effort was made to enlist the relevant terms of reference, employed in order to provide an analysis of the evidence garnered on the basis of the ‘terms of references’ that were stipulated. The instances which were possibly not covered, in the terms of certain utilised references alas brought this third leg of the Zondo report, to its closure. Well done to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and his entire team for finally wrapping up this commission. Moving forward, it must be clear that implementation of the recommendations, must be prioritised. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi (Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies) & Nchafatso Pitso (PHD. Candidate at University of KwaZulu-Natal)

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