Covidpreneurs: South Africa’s ANC cadres steal billions


South Africa's ruling black elite, the ANC cadres have descended on Covid-19 emergency funds like hyenas. In terms of personal protective equipment alone, there is talk of R2,2 billion that has flowed between dubious transactions and businesses.


These revelations come on the eve of a further R70 billion that may be lent to South Africa by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) by tomorrow.

The special investigation unit is investigating 90 companies that received tenders from the Gauteng health department. A further R30 million in illegal tenders in Kwazulu-Natal is similarly under the magnifying glass, along with others in the Eastern Cape.

The theft via government contracts or “tenders” is so bad that even the chairman of the Black Business Council, Sandile Zungu, complained: “It’s no longer black business, it’s thieves.”

In an interview with the Sunday Times today, Zungu stated: “The whole thing looks so dishonest and dirty, one doubts whether it will ever comply with the national treasury’s regulations on the emergency purchases of supplies and services.”

In one case in Kwazulu-Natal, 5 000 liter water tanks were installed at schools at a cost of R28 000 per tank while similar tanks were commercially available for less than R5 000.

In the Eastern Cape in the so-called “OR Tambo district”, R168 million was advanced to a group of tenderpreneurs for a water and sewer project without any work ever done. The municipal manager is apparently currently being charged.

In the same municipal district, OR Tambo, named after the ANC terrorist of the same name, a company called Phathilizwi Training Institution received a sum of R4,8 million, apparently for a “Covid-19 awareness campaign” while under level 4 restrictions. The company apparently “talked” to 6 400 people, but no one can remember anything like that.

In Pretoria, Tshepang Phohole received about R5,7 million from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which was intended for 1 400 people. However, he and his family spent the money on cars, home improvements and tombstones. Phohole, his girlfriend and three others were apparently arrested and charged.

Another tender of R37 million was issued by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure under the emergency regulations to repair the fence at the Beit Bridge border post with Zimbabwe. However, large parts of the very poorly erected fence have been stolen and anyone, including cigarette and other smugglers, now strolls comfortably back and forth across the border.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s own spokesperson is similarly mentioned as one of the “covidpreneurs”. On the list of companies that received money under the emergency measures is a company called Royal Bhaca, which belongs to the husband of Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko. According to a report in last week’s Sunday Independent, Royal Bhaca, which belongs to Bhaca King Thandisizwe Diko, has received two contracts with a combined value of R125 million. Apparently there is a “close connection” between the Dikos and the Gauteng MEC for health, Bandile Masuku’s family, hence the “business” transactions.

Another black man with political connections, Sicelo Buthelezi, received three tenders with a combined value of R873 million from the province of Gauteng. Buthelezi is a former chairperson of the ANC’s Sandton Branch and was previously an “adviser” to the former MEC for health in Gauteng, Qedani Mahlangu. Sicelo Buthelezi’s company is called HSB Mercantile.

Buthelezi, however, denies that there was any conflict of interest involved in the tenders. According to him, he “last worked for the department in 2012”. When the Sunday Times asked him if he had received money, he replied: “Certainly the relationship is ongoing but I cannot divulge without client approval any details concerning my company’s role as a service provider to them.”

Another ANC cadre, Thabiso Lekoana’s name also appears on the list of covidpreneurs. His company, LNG Scientific, received R113 million in tenders from the Gauteng health department. He confirmed that he was “doing business” with the department.

The connection between a music record company and the supply of health goods may be somewhat problematic for most, but not the cadres. In the case of Ntsikelelo Khatyana, who has ties to the former treasurer general of the ANC Youth League, Reggie Nkabinde, he was awarded a tender. Khatyana is the executive director of the aptly named record company, Mabala Noise, which belongs to Nkabinde. This enabled Khatyana to obtain a R17 million tender from the Gauteng Department of Health for his own company, Olwe2 Project Management Consultancy. However, he does not want to talk to the media about it.

A spokesperson for the Gauteng province, Thabo Masebe, admitted that the special investigation unit was currently investigating the list of tenders. According to him, the Gauteng health department “used disaster management regulations to appoint service providers, while deviating from strict tender procedures. Officials from the Gauteng audit department have noticed problems with contracts amounting to several million rands”. According to the audit department, not only the amounts seemed excessive but the processes involved were blatantly unfair.

A former SABC employee, Kaizer Kganyago, is currently serving as spokesperson for the special investigation unit. He says: “Our team has been there [at the Gauteng treasury] for a week or more. They have already established that there are 90 companies that they are investigating … just for the health department in relation to PPEs only. If one of them is to the value of R125m and there are 90 of them, it’s a lot of money.

“We’re looking at procurement in the main and adherence to the regulations from treasury. And those regulations were specific on issues of price. There was a clear regulation and framework put out by the National Treasury. We’re looking at whether people are adhering to those, among other things,” Kganyago stated.

South Africans know however that most of these so-called charges, complaints and investigations are merely window-dressing exercises and the usual thieves will never have to face the music.