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Highlights of Ramaphosa’s affidavit to Zondo inquiry

Here is a summary of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s affidavit submitted to the Zondo commission.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa gives a press conference at the Union Buildings on 21 July 2019 in Pretoria.

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has submitted his affidavit on whether he has had any interactions or dealings with the controversial Gupta family and African Global Operations, previously known as Bosasa, to the judicial commission of inquiry probing allegations of state capture and corruption.

This after the commission’s chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo informed the president the commission would need affidavits from previous and current members of Cabinet, including deputy ministers, on whether they had any relations with the Guptas and Bosasa.

Ramaphosa also committed to testifying at the commission when called to do so by the deputy chief justice.

Here is a summary of Ramaphosa’s affidavit submitted to the commission:

THE GUPTAS:

The president confirmed to the Zondo commission that he had met with two of the Gupta brothers “on three or four occasions”, but couldn’t remember their individual names. The three Gupta brothers include Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh who is also known as Tony.

“The first time I met them was at a media briefing held by the ANC [African National Congress] officials that took place after the 53rd conference of the ANC in Bloemfontein. This took place on or about 21 December 2012, when the newly elected officials of the ANC were presenting the resolutions taken at the conference at a breakfast media briefing broadcast by the SABC. I am not able to say which of the brothers I met at the time as I did not get to know their individual names,” he said.

“As far as I can recall, the second time I met the brothers was at a similar event after the 2014 national elections.”

Ramaphosa said his interactions with the Gupta brothers were at events where "nothing of any consequence was discussed". He said he had never engaged with them beyond basic greetings, pleasantries, and common courtesies.

However, the president said he did meet with Tony Gupta on April 2016 when he requested a meeting with the African National Congress’ (ANC) top six leaders after the Guptas' bank accounts were closed by the country’s major banks.

“The only occasion on which matters of substance were discussed was when the Gupta brothers requested a meeting with ANC officials (I gathered from the evidence of our [then] secretary-general Gwede Mantashe that this was by letter of [former Oakbay CEO] Nazeem Howa) to discuss their situation in relation to the closure of their bank accounts, and at which was also raised the controversy around them and their relationship with the then President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.

“One of them arrived for the meeting and I think it was Tony Gupta. At this meeting, held during April 2016, various issues were discussed, including the closure of the bank accounts of one of their businesses - Oakbay. Tony Gupta made a presentation on their business model and detailed their various businesses, including those in the mining and media sectors. One of the issues that I raised at that meeting was the landing of 747 Jumbo Jet at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.

“I stated that they had, through their actions, placed the former president in an invidious position. Tony Gupta’s reaction was that permission for the plane to land had been obtained and given by the Indian High Commissioner.”

BOSASA:

Ramaphosa also detailed in his affidavit his interactions with former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi, whose given incriminating testimony at the Zondo commission about the company’s alleged corrupt dealings with government and its influence over ANC leaders.

"I have been advised that Mr Angelo Agrizzi worked for Grantham Catering, a subsidiary of the Molope Group. Grantham Catering specialised in providing catering services on the mines. I worked for the Molope Group of companies, and thereafter Rebserve (which bought the relevant portions of Molope), from 1999 to 2003. Prior to that, I was chair of the Molope Group from 1996. I understand that Mr Agrizzi left the employ of Grantham Catering in 1997.

"It is entirely possible that I may have interacted with Mr Agrizzi at the time but I have no recollection of having done so. In addition, in my work with the Molope Group, the company would have been in direct competition with Bosasa at the time. I may, therefore, have interacted with Bosasa directors or employees at the time been at the same events as them. However, I have no personal recollection of any such interactions."

Ramaphosa has been embroiled in a legal battle with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her report released in July, which found that he misled Parliament over a R500,000 donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.

The president stated in his affidavit that he was advised that Watson and Bosasa director Trevor Mathenjwa had attended in October 2017 one of the Back-to-School parties organised by the Adopt-a-School Foundation, which was hosted by his foundation, the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF).

Ramaphosa said Watson and Mathenjwa had attended the fundraising event as guests of Chinese company, Dahua Technology. The company, according to his affidavit, provides video surveillance products and services.

The president said his role in CRF was “limited to that of a board member and I am not involved in the management and operations of the trust”. He said the day-to-day operations of the foundation were managed by an executive management team, supported by a staff complement across the partner entities of 133 people.

He also said he wasn’t aware of a donation made by Bosasa to the Adopt-a-School Foundation.

“Dahua had contributed R55,000 as a donation to the Adopt-a-School Foundation by buying a table at the dinner fundraising event which was held on 14 October 2017 (by buying a table they were entitled to bring 10 persons to attend the event). To my knowledge, no donation was ever made to the foundation by Bosasa.”

Ramaphosa said Watson and Mathenjwa were also guests at his son Andile’s wedding in Uganda in August 2018, but he had no recollection of any interaction with them.

“I have been informed that both Mr Watson and Mr Mathenjwa attended the wedding of my son Andile on 4 August 2018 in Uganda. Over 1,000 people attending this event including between 150 and 200 guests flew from South Africa for the occasion. I have no recollection of any interaction with them at the event.

“Mr Watson and some of his siblings were actively involved in the United Democratic Front in their home town of Port Elizabeth, so it is entirely possible I may have met him or interreacted with him in that context decades ago, though I have no personal recollection of ever doing so."

It emerged earlier this year at the Zondo commission that Bosasa had allegedly hosted the ANC’s elections call centre at its offices ahead of the national elections in 2014. This was revealed by former Bosasa central divisions manager Frans Vorster.

Ramaphosa stated in his affidavit that during the last municipal elections in 2016, he took a tour of the ANC’s elections call centre located at Bosasa’s headquarters to meet the governing party’s volunteers. But, he said he may have also interreacted with Bosasa employees that were present at the call centre.

He also said he wasn’t aware of the source of funding for the call centre because this was handled by the elections team.

“Sometime in July or August 2016, I took a tour of the call centre at which volunteers were assisting the ANC in its campaign in the local government elections. This call centre was situated at the headquarters of the Bosasa offices. I remember interacting there with ANC volunteers and party officials but may well have also interreacted with Bosasa employees that were present at the premises at the time. I had no knowledge at the time of the source of funding for this centre as these matters were the purview of the elections team.”

Read Ramaphosa's affidavit to the Zondo commission below:

Affidavit President Ramaphosa by Janice Healing on Scribd

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