Ace to Zwane: Zondo gets A to Z on unFree State
Picture emerging of a duo who, as individuals or partners, used blackmail and threats to wield power
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and ANC national executive committee member Mosebenzi Zwane have one thing in common – they both had a strong political grip during their time as provincial political players in the Free State.
And both have been promoted to the national political space while their provincial nemeses are mostly idle without employment after being crushed by the duo.
This is the picture that is emerging at the state capture commission of inquiry sitting in Johannesburg as it again this week delves into what transpired in the Free State during the nine years of state capture.
All the evidence about the province ventilated before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo features either the name of Magashule or Zwane, and both on some occasions.
Tuesday was no different as former Free State head of department for human settlements Mpho Mokoena took the stand. Today he is unemployed after opposing the two strongmen.
His story was similar to that of Mxolisi Dukwana, who testified before the commission a year ago about how he was unceremoniously fired as MEC for economic development in 2010 by Magashule – his longtime friend turned enemy.
Dukwana had testified that his axing had everything to do with his refusal to carry out favours for Magashule’s friends – the notorious Gupta family.
With Mokoena, a similar thing happened after he was pushed to resign in 2011, also because pressure was mounting on him to commit irregularities.
That pressure came from Magashule and Zwane.
Mokoena told the commission it was Zwane who pushed for a controversial advance payment to suppliers in a R1bn project to build low-cost houses.
He said he had warned Zwane such a move was in contradiction with the laws governing the expenditure of public funds.
Zwane’s response? That Mokoena should resign if he was not interested in coming on board.
“I said I am not comfortable with the plan because it is bordering on illegality. The MEC said his adviser was going to do research and prepare an internal memo,” said Mokoena.
“After the meeting I approached the MEC and we went back to the boardroom, just the two of us. I repeated that ‘the plan you are suggesting is illegal’.
“MEC Zwane said: ‘This is my plan and it is going to happen. If you have a problem with it please submit your resignation letter, after which you will be poor because your house and vehicle will be repossessed and your children will be kicked out of school.’”
This is my plan and it is going to happen. If you have a problem with it please submit your resignation letter.
The blackmailing and threats of being subjected to poverty to those who refused to fall in line appear to have been the modus operandi in the world of Zwane and Magashule.
Dukwana had previously testified along the same lines about the severe consequences of defying Magashule when he called the shots in the Free State.
“Some people proudly [on] public platforms say: ‘We will deal with you, you will be out of work, you will be poor and in some instances they say they will take your wife’,” Dukwana told Zondo exactly a year ago.
Back to Mokoena on Zwane’s prepayment scheme, after the threats of poverty, he eventually signed the go-ahead for payments to be processed to companies that had done no work, the majority of which had no experience in construction.
To that end, more than R500bn was paid out and the existence of the thousands of the houses that were meant to be built at the time remains a mystery to this day.
Mokoena would quit as HoD in December 2011 having only taken the reins after 2009 general elections.
He said he resigned “due to the pressure I was feeling, especially from our premier, Mr Ace Magashule”.