Lindiwe Sisulu’s Ace-linked stitch-up exposed - Emma Powell

DA MP provides further evidence in unfolding political scandal

Sisulu’s Ace-linked stitch-up exposed

In recent days, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has released a number of statements regarding Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s deeply questionable, and potentially illegal conduct as Minister.

These reports have focused predominantly on two issues:

1. The status of Sisulu’s National Rapid Response Task Team (NRRTT) following the Minister having signed a letter on 15 April disbanding the unit, alleging its members were pursuing easy wealth accumulation via the Department, travelling across South Africa soliciting deals and financial support on her behalf. The Unit’s disbandment was then denied by her office (See media statement here).

2. Alleged attempts by the Minister’s senior advisor Mphumzi Mdekazi to recoup outstanding political campaign debt via the awarding of tenders to a sand water abstraction company in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. (See media statements here and here).

The DA noted in earlier statements that fuller details regarding the two firms appointed by the Minister to look into events unfolding at Amatola would be released later this week. The DA is now in a position to shed further evidence of what appears to be a filthy political stitch up. This is corroborated by reports this morning by leading investigative journalism outfit, amaBhungane.

According to suspended Amatola CEO, Vuyo Zitumane, a company named Outsourced Risk and Compliance Assessment (ORCA) was originally hired by Sisulu to look into the affairs of Amatola Water Board on 6 April 2020. This, after Zitumane is said to have resisted alleged coercion by the Minister, via her advisor, to award 60% of the R230 million drought relief funding allocated to the Board, to a company named Empowering Water Solutions (EWS). The Director of EWS is Advocate Lungile Bomela (annexure 1). It must be noted that Bomela is not at this stage accused directly of wrongdoing.

On 12 April, a second investigative firm named Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions (OWARS) was appointed by the Minister to conduct a further forensic investigation into the affairs of Amatola. The scope of this investigation further included a lifestyle audit on the Chief Executives, including Zitumane herself (annexure 2).

On 23 April, prior to any known findings being made by the appointed firms, Zitumane was suspended by the Amatola Board - which has now also been dismissed by the Minister. Zitumane deposed to an affidavit the same day, noting serious allegations of attempted procurement meddling by the Ministry.

It has now become clear that the Director of the second investigative firm OWARS, Reavell Rhodes N’kondo (annexure 3), has a shared interest with the very Director of EWS, the company at the centre of the Amatola debacle. This in the form of an article 21 company (NPO) known as The Elf Foundation (annexure 4).

In essence, Sisulu has personally appointed a firm whose director has a known shared interest with the company at the centre of allegations faced by the Minster herself, to investigate both the Amatola Board and its CEO, who alleges she is being pursued for resisting political interference by the Ministry in relation to EWS.

It further appears that the ELF Foundation’s co-directors indicate direct links to ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule. This, in the form of Elizabeth Rockman, who served as former Free State MEC for Finance under Magashule’s leadership as Premier.

Thus, the Director of EWS, the Director of the firm conducting a forensic investigation into Amatola’s suspended CEO, OWARS; and the ex-finance MEC appointed by Ace Magashule – who is purported to lead the ruling party’s anti-Ramaphosa, RET faction - all share a common, registered business interest.

It is now up to the public to make upt their own minds as to what is really transpiring in the Ministry and to judge for themselves the strange timing of the Minister’s #SisuluAntiCorruption PR and media exercise this week.

It must also be noted that the DA’s attempts to expose the full facts of this matter are in no way indicative of support for the CEOs concerned, or of the Boards themselves.

The facts remain that as it pertains to the unfolding circumstances relating to EWS, Amatola Water, Lepelle Northern Water, and Mphumzi Mdekazi – it seems that there may be a deliberate stitch-up at play by a Minister who is now deeply compromised.

The DA can further announce that we will today provide a statement to the South African Police Services in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, requesting them to investigate the activities of the Minister’s National Rapid Response Task Team. This following the Minister’s failure to respond to questions submitted to her office on Sunday 10 May, and at numerous instances prior to that.

My office will not be intimidated in continuing to expose political malfeasance.

South Africa has had enough.

Statement issued by Emma Powell MP - Deputy Shadow Minister Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements, 15 May 2020