Spotlight on Chancellor House after Hitachi scandal

The Chancellor House/Hitachi deal is now the focus of criminal charges.

The ANC's headquarters, Luthuli House, in central Johannesburg. Picture: WikiCommons

JOHANNESBURG - As the Constitutional Court prepares to say whether political parties must be forced to explain their funding this morning, the Chancellor House/Hitachi deal is now the focus of criminal charges and several requests for the Public Protector to investigate.

On Tuesday, former Eskom chairman and African National Congress (ANC) NEC member Valli Moosa said political considerations did not play a part in Eskom's decision to give Hitachi certain contracts.

On Monday night, American authorities said Hitachi was paying a R250 million fine after being accused of simply using Chancellor House for its political influence because it was the ANC's investment firm.

Moosa said this demonstrated why parties must be transparent about money and their funding tunnels.

"I've long held the view that it's the only really big weakness of our otherwise great Constitution."

While the United Democratic Movement's leader Bantu Holomisa blamed the ANC and the Democratic Alliance.

"These guys have been dragging their feet. They know that they use companies like Chancellor House as their cash cows."

But governance expert Dr Ivor Sarakinsky said it's not just about transparency.

"We must be very cautious in saying transparency will solve the problem, I don't think it will. It has to be a multifaceted process of civil society and media."

Judges are ruling today in the case brought by the NGO, My Vote Counts.


At the same time, Corruption Watch head David Lewis said he is absolutely certain that the Hitachi deal signed by Eskom that involved the ANC's investment company was an act of corruption.

Lewis says the people involved in the deal should be careful about what they say.

"If I was Valli Moosa, I would be saying as little as possible at the moment. I truly thought I could not be shocked and try again to read the statement of claim filed by the SEC. It's outrageous."


There were calls on Tuesday for criminal and civil investigations to unpack the latest findings.

Reacting to the news, the DA said it will lay criminal charges against Chancellor House.

Spokesman Graham Charters said, "The DA will be writing to the Public Protector requesting an immediate investigation into this matter. The DA will also be laying charges in this regard to ensure that anyone that is implicated at Chancellor House are investigated, prosecuted, found guilty and jailed."

There are also calls for a local civil investigation and a review of how political parties raise funds.

Political analyst Judith February said, "This is an issue about money and the political process. The political parties need money to survive but the question is how they raise that money."

The Mail & Guardian's Sam Sole says the findings are damning and an investigation should be launched.

"There really should be a civil and criminal investigation, whether that will happen or not I think it depends on how much public pressure is."

The ANC's Chancellor House is yet to comment.

For a full statement from the US SEC, click _ here._