DA was right to lay charges against Ace for Asbestos scam

01 May 2022 in Press Statements

Note to the Editor: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Leona Kleynhans MPL

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes receipt of the fourth Zondo report into State Capture, which vindicates our contention that the Free State department of Human Settlements was used as a laundromat to siphon funds meant for the poorest people in the province into the pockets of ANC politicians and their cronies.

We are particularly pleased with the findings against senior politicians, including former MEC Mosebenzi Zwane, and former Premier Ace Magashule. Judge Raymond Zondo states in the report that Zwane must be investigated for fraud related to the disastrous R1 billion ‘debacle’ in which funds were dished out to various crony contractors and allegedly, some politicians. In addition, Magashule failed to ‘provide leadership’, or ‘intervene effectively’ in this catastrophe. His only action was to shuffle Zwane to the department of Agriculture, where Zwane presided over the Vrede Dairy disaster.

In the Asbestos matter, which Zondo calls a ‘considerable scam from its inception’ findings are made against the DG of the Department of Human Settlements and the Free State HOD Mokhesi. When the DA first had sight of the contract and payments in 2015, we immediately went to the Bloemfontein High Court on an urgent basis to get the payments stopped, and the contract reviewed, precisely because it was obviously a scam. Our application was denied on urgency. Thereafter we took the matter to the Public Protector, who after five years issued a report stating that this had been an unsolicited bid, that no value for money had been received, and recommending a criminal investigation into the HOD and officials. Mokhesi was subsequently suspended.

In May of 2020 the DA then laid charges against Ace Magashule with the Hawks for his failure to intervene after the 2015 court case in which serious allegations had been made. He had once again failed in his duty to provide leadership over his executive, or intervene in a patently dodgy contract. In his report Zondo recommends that the R250 million be recovered from Edwin Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting, and partner Diamond Hill Trading, whose director, Igo Mpambani was assassinated in Johannesburg, during a fight between the partners about payments.

The trial in the asbestos matter is still to begin in earnest, while Ace Magashule protests his innocence. We suggest that he read the charge sheet and subject himself to justice.

While 240 000 people in the Free State await houses, and the Free State is littered with 8 800 incomplete houses, some started during the 2010 ‘R 1 billion debacle’ years, and only 3 000 of the estimated 33 000 asbestos roofed houses have been repaired, only politicians and their cronies benefited from the funds extracted from the department.

It is indeed a vindication that the Zondo commission has agreed with our contention. And our greatest satisfaction with the report is that the political masterminds of this subterfuge and fraud have not been spared. They must ultimately be held accountable.

The Democratic Alliance has been at the forefront of exposing the rampant corruption in the Free State, and will continue to do so until justice has been done for the poor of the Free State.